Nokia and BT say they have successfully aggregated 5G Standalone (SA) spectrum using 5CC Carrier Aggregation (5CC CA), and that the UK incumbent is the first European operator to do so.

The trial used a device powered by a Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF system from Qualcomm, and it was conducted on live network spectrum at Adastral Park, BT R&D base, using Nokia’s 5G AirScale portfolio. It hit downlink speeds of 1.85 Gbps using three FDD carriers NR2600 (30MHz), NR2100 (20MHz), NR1800 (20MHz) aggregated with two TDD carriers NR3600 (40+40MHz).

Nokia says that 5CC CA will significantly boost the data rates available to customers in areas of high demand by combining all mid-band radio spectrum when the 5G SA device requires a high-speed connection.

EE’s 5G SA network is set to launch later this year, and it will also have the capability to use a low frequency sixth carrier ‘to provide a superior experience in more places, including indoors,’ we’re told.

“This latest milestone achieved with Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies enhances 5G SA performance as we work towards the launch of our network, building further on the benefits of carrier aggregation in delivering greater throughput and speeds to customers,” said Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer at BT Group. “This is particularly important as more and more devices come to market with 5CC CA capabilities. We are focused on maximising our spectrum assets to deliver the very best experience to our customers with that in mind.”

Mark Atkinson, SVP and Head of RAN at Nokia added: “This successful trial with our long-standing partner, BT is another great example of Nokia’s clear leadership in 5G carrier aggregation technology. Multi-component carrier aggregation helps mobile operators to maximize their radio network assets and provide the highest 5G data rates at more locations to subscribers.”

The two firms managed 4CC CA in 5G SA downlink with concurrent 2CC CA in 5G SA uplink last year. They are pitching this as the next milestone in that process, by ‘achieving further performance uplift in connections from the device to the network by increasing throughput and capacity.’

Over in the US, T-Mobile conducted a six-component carrier (6CC) aggregation call using sub-6-GHz spectrum on its live 5G network in January, which it said was the first time it has been done, anywhere.

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