State-backed Uzbek mobile operator Ucell announced on its website that it has begun testing 5G mobile network technology in response to recent calls from the country’s President and the Ministry of Information Technologies & Communications (MITC) inviting operators and tech providers to submit 5G deployment proposals. Ucell gained permission to test a 5G network earlier this month, and is now using equipment provided by Huawei to conduct tests at the company headquarters in Tashkent. So far, peak data speed has reached 1.376Gbps (downlink). Ucell is currently preparing ‘a demonstration of 5G in test mode’ at ICT Expo 2019 (part of Uzbekistan’s ICT Week) on 25-27 September. The operator adds that later this year it will switch on a live 5G network section at Tashkent’s International Business Centre, before gradually adding further 5G coverage in other locations.
Another state-owned Uzbek cellco, Uzmobile (part of Uzbektelecom), also disclosed on its website details of 5G tests, similarly in partnership with Huawei. Uzmobile said that it installed its first set of 5G base stations on its network on 14 September which were ‘put into operation for pre-trial testing’ using ‘frequencies up to 6GHz’ and Non-Standalone (NSA) network architecture, supported by its existing 4G infrastructure. Uzmobile added it will be testing technologies including ‘multiple non-hierarchical (disproportionate) access and Massive MIMO’, with internet access speeds of around 1Gbps. Based on test results, it will draw up a programme of commercial 5G equipment procurement and rollout which it expects to take ‘more than one and a half years’. On Uzbektelecom’s Facebook page, a company engineer posted a 5G testing device screenshot showing a data connection speed of 1.455Gbps (downlink)/114Mbps (uplink) on the Uzmobile network in Tashkent. The engineer added that ‘in the near future’ more details would be published ‘about the zones where it will be possible to test 5G’.