Earlier this month, companies and vendors from across the wireless industry came together at Verizon’s facility in Irving, Texas to test 4G LTE technology over the CBRS (Citizen Band Radio Spectrum) spectrum. After the successful initial trials last year, Corning, Ericsson, Federated Wireless, Google, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies are all collaborating in end-to-end system testing.
The CBRS band is made up of 150 MHz of 3.5 GHz shared spectrum, which until now has been primarily used by the federal government for radar systems. The FCC authorized shared use of the spectrum with wireless small cells in 2016. By using LTE Advanced technology, carrier aggregation and the spectrum access system (SAS), Verizon will be able to use this shared spectrum to add capacity to its network.
The end-to-end system tests are designed to accomplish several goals on the path to widespread commercial deployment:
Corning provided a SpiderCloud Enterprise RAN composed of a Services Node and SCRN-330 Radio Nodes. Ericsson’s Radio System solution is comprised of 4×4 MIMO, 4x20MHz Carrier Aggregation, including CBRS spectrum delivered over infrastructure aggregating Ericsson’s outdoor micro base station (Radio 2208 units) with the indoor B48 Radio Dot System in the same baseband (5216 units). Nokia provided FlexiZone Multiband Indoor BTS, FlexiZone Multiband Outdoor BTS and FlexiZone Controller.
In addition, participants in this ecosystem have set up private LTE sites which are using CBRS spectrum. Private LTE networks are being engineered to meet the needs of enterprise customers who want greater control over their LTE solutions including private on-site servers, control over access to their designated LTE network, as well as increased throughput and reduced latency through dedicated backhaul.
The end-to-end system testing, which began in February and will continue over the next several weeks, has provided actionable insights and have significantly advanced CBRS spectrum deployment feasibility.
“The promise of the CBRS band and enabling the use of wider swaths of spectrum will make a big impact on carrying wireless data in the future. These trials are critical to stress test the full system,” said Bill Stone, VP technology development and planning for Verizon. “There are many players in the CBRS ecosystem and these successful trials ensure all the various parts perform together as an end-to-end system for our customers’ benefit. We want to ensure devices efficiently use CBRS spectrum and that the new components effectively interact with the rest of the network.”
At the conclusion of this testing, equipment will be submitted for certification through the FCC. Following that deployment can then begin. Both commercial deployment of LTE on CBRS spectrum and devices that can access the CBRS spectrum are expected to begin in 2018.
CommScope, Ericsson Complete SAS Interoperability Testing for CBRS
To help ensure their readiness for commercial deployment in the CBRS wireless spectrum, CommScope and Ericsson have successfully completed interoperability testing of their equipment. The testing is one of the first successful interoperability tests using the Wireless Innovation Forum’s release 1.2 specifications.
“CommScope’s team of architects, developers and engineers have been building an industry-leading SAS for nearly two years,” said Tom Gravely, vice president of research and development, Network Solutions, CommScope. “Completion of interoperability testing with a major radio equipment provider such as Ericsson validates our SAS design and readies us for commercial deployment.”
The interoperability test confirmed that CommScope’s Spectrum Access System (SAS) and Ericsson’s radio infrastructure with CBRS spectrum support will work together as part of a CBRS network. The rigorous SAS–Citizens Broadband Radio Service Device (CBSD) interoperability testing used a battery of scenarios to verify that both products meet governmental requirements and industry protocols, as well as CommScope’s and Ericsson’s respective quality standards.
“Ericsson offers a comprehensive portfolio of CBRS network solutions that will help operators of all sizes deploy in this spectrum quickly and successfully,” said Paul Challoner, vice president of Network Product Solutions, Ericsson. “Additional milestones need to be reached for CBRS to become a reality, but we are pleased to complete interoperability testing with CommScope as part of the developmental process.”
In a CBRS network, a SAS and CBSD work together to ensure that the appropriate wireless signals are transmitted and received between the core network and end-user devices, while managing interference. An Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC) works with the SAS to identify the wireless signals of incumbent users to avoid interference from CBSDs. CommScope is one of four ESC operators conditionally approved by the FCC to provide SAS and ESC services.
Ericsson has completed the deployment of the first cellular narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) clusters in the COSMOTE 4G network in eleven Greek cities and hotspots, to support emerging mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications) use cases. Ericsson upgraded part of the COSMOTE LTE network with software that supports NB-IoT technology, enabling massive IoT use cases.
“NB-IoT will accelerate the development of the IoT market in Greece and open up vast opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship in many industries, such as transport and healthcare, resulting in new services that will significantly improve quality of life,” said George Pappas, Ericsson Greece.
In addition, Ericsson and COSMOTE aim to develop use cases and build the local ecosystem. In collaboration with local partner Fuelics, and using Ericsson IoT Accelerator Platform, the companies designed, tested and introduced a novel NB-IoT use case using COSMOTE’s commercial network for asset management – fuel tank capacity monitoring – at the Democritus University of Thrace.
Built using 3GPP standards, NB-IoT enables a wide range of devices and services to be wirelessly connected using cellular telecommunications bands. This IoT technology is relatively cost-efficient and brings many other advantages, including low power consumption, extensive coverage, massive connectivity, and a high reliability of transmission. Leveraging on existing LTE footprint, COSMOTE can deploy a wide range of new IoT use cases and services in smart cities, logistics handling, utilities and more.
Singapore-based Singtel has achieved gig speeds using Ericsson’s quad-band FDD/TDD Carrier Aggregation (CA) technology, which will enable it use its 2500 MHz spectrum band.
Following the successful trial, Singtel will progressively roll out this technology at key high traffic locations. Handsets supporting the gig speeds offered by quad-band FDD/TDD CA are expected to be available from the second half of 2018.
Existing users can experience up to 20 percent faster mobile broadband speeds on average as Singtel deploys Ericsson’s bandwidth-aware CA feature, which manages spectrum more efficiently and selects the best spectrum band combination available.
Ericsson announced today its installed base of radio products from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio will be able to run 5G New Radio (NR). This capability will be achieved through a remote software installation.
This applies to more than 150 different radio variants in Ericsson Radio System that are active in more than 190 networks around the world, meaning that Ericsson Radio System legacy radios from 2015 can support 5G NR. This 5G NR readiness also applies to Ericsson’s delivered micro radios in Ericsson Radio System and existing Radio Dot System products. In short, all Ericsson Radio System products are ready for 5G NR.
Operators will have the possibility to run 4G and 5G in the same band with the same radio and the same baseband. It will also be possible to share the spectrum between 4G and 5G with side-by-side carriers in the same band, and even with overlapping carriers using so-called ‘Dynamic Spectrum Sharing’ functionality.
It seems no company is looking forward to 5G more than Ericsson, after a difficult 2017. The OEM launched its 5G RAN commercial software today, based on the recently approved first 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standard. It also introduced a new category of radio products called Street Macro – a new site type that addresses the need of operators to grow in cities with limited available radio locations. The company also announced today that its Ericsson Radio System products are ready for 5G NR. (See companion article.)
To capture growth opportunities presented by new 5G use cases, Ericsson expanded its 5G Core System with new capabilities to support 5G NR and also enhances its distributed cloud solution.
“Operators who want to be early with 5G now have the essential pieces for launching 5G networks already this year,” said Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. “With our expanded platform, they will get more efficient networks as well as opportunities to create new revenues from emerging consumer and industrial use cases.”
The 5G radio network software announced today complements Ericsson’s already launched baseband and 5G radios. Operators can activate their 5G networks, according to the OEM, and take the first steps with commercial 5G.
Last December, Ericsson turned on a 5G NR cell in the mmW frequencies in the city of Torino, which reached speeds of more 20 Gbps.
The radio offering is complemented with 5G core commercial software optimized for 5G throughput, network capacity and scalability. Ericsson’s Packet Core and Unified Data Management solutions will deliver enhancements throughout 2018 to efficiently support 5G services. These solutions can be further upgraded with new functionalities as the 3GPP 5G standard evolves.