Huawei reveals 5G fixed wireless modem in trials with Telus

Huawei has revealed the world’s first commercial 5G modem, Balong 5G01, along with a 5G device that will power wireless-to-the home service as part of the first wave of real-world commercial 5G deployments.

The modem and the device, the 3GPP Standard 5G CPE, are now in commercial trials with one of Canada’s major carriers, Telus.

Right now, the devices are being tested only in the homes of Vancouver Telus employees, but when the tech enters the broader market, it’ll be among the first examples of commercial 5G in Canada.

With the device offering up to 2Gbps peak speeds thanks to the 5G01 modem, the aim is to provide a fibre-like cellular internet experience for the home, offering a valid alternative to broadband.

The chipset that powers the device is compatible with all 5G frequency bands, including sub-6GHz and millimeter wave (mmWave).

The CPE can operate indoors or outdoors and offers download speeds of up to 2Gbps, supporting both 4G and 5G networks. It comes in two models. There’s a low-frequency version and a high-frequency version. The low-frequency device is small and lightweight, while the high-frequency version — the one used in the Telus trials — is available in indoor and outdoor units.

5G is expected to eventually reach 20Gbps peak download speeds, but at the beginning 5G deployments are more likely to reach only single-digit gigabit speeds, from around 2Gbps to 6Gbps. These being peak speeds, they’re also likely to be much lower in the real-world, but still a significant boost from 4G.

Wireless-to-the-home devices like the one announced by Huawei offer the most benefit to customers in rural areas, where internet options are slow or limited.

The reveal comes after a release earlier this month announcing 5G wireless-to-the-home trials with Telus.

Pictured in header: Antenna box and mmWave CPE device.

Photography by Patrick O’Rourke.