Ericsson and SmarTone, a mobile network operator in Hong Kong, are trialing FDD Massive MIMO technology as part of the operator’s network evolution plan toward 5G.
The trial, involving FDD Massive MIMO on 1800 MHz, represents the first of its kind for operators in Hong Kong. It is proving the capabilities of this key technology ahead of the live deployment in 2018 of AIR 3246, Ericsson’s new radio that can support Massive MIMO over 4G/LTE with Ericsson’s 5G Massive MIMO Plug-In.
Massive MIMO is a key technology that bridges network evolution from 4G to 5G, adding intelligent capacity and boosting user experience, according to Ericsson. Massive MIMO on FDD yields a multi-fold increase of network capacity and increase user throughput by up to five times, boosting performance for end users.
Ericsson has recently launched its first radio, AIR 3246, supporting FDD Massive MIMO for both 4G and 5G. The technology enables operators to boost capacity in their LTE networks.
At Mobile World Congress Americas, Sprint and Ericsson announced the results of the first U.S. 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) field tests conducted in Seattle, Washington and Plano, Texas using Sprint’s spectrum and Ericsson’s 64T64R (64 transmit, 64 receive) radios. The two companies are preparing for commercial deployment next year, with Massive MIMO radios capable of increasing Sprint’s network capacity up to ten times.
Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO, said, “Massive MIMO is a tremendous competitive advantage for Sprint, enabling us to maximize our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”
Testing of Massive MIMO on the Sprint LTE Plus network in downtown Seattle showed a capacity increase of approximately four times compared to an 8T8R antenna. To showcase this capacity, Sprint convened 100 people with Samsung Galaxy S7 phones and ran simultaneous file downloads on a timed-test on all networks. The testing showed a 100 percent success rate on the Massive MIMO-powered Sprint network.
In Plano, Texas, Sprint and Ericsson also recently tested Ericsson’s 64T64R Massive MIMO radios reaching peak speeds of more than 300 Mbps using a single 20 MHz channel of 2.5 GHz spectrum.
For both field trials, Ericsson provided the radio network infrastructure and backhaul equipment. Sprint and Ericsson together developed the test cases and requirements, which included a variety of performance scenarios involving multi-user and non-stationary testing. The Radio Network infrastructure included Ericsson’s next-generation 5G-ready AIR6468 radio, and the backhaul equipment utilized the MINI-LINK 6352 R2 microwave radios which can provide up to 10 Gbps of backhaul, future proofing the network for 5G.
Even though there is no standard yet, Ericsson announced that its platform now includes an FDD radio from capable of supporting 5G and Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Massive MIMO). The new radio will provide a bridge between fourth generation and fifth generation wireless using today’s spectrum allocations.
The AIR 3246 is designed to complement to Ericsson’s global 5G radio offering, supporting both 4G/LTE and 5G NR (New Radio) technologies. Operators will be able to bring 5G to subscribers using mid-band spectrum and boost capacity in their LTE networks.
Ericsson’s 5G Platform includes three previously launched time division duplex (TDD) radios capable of supporting 5G and Massive MIMO, as well as core, transport, digital support and security elements.
The radio will enhance 4G capacity for subscribers today and simplify the transition to 5G in the future, according to Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson.
Stefan Pongratz, Senior Director at the Dell’Oro Group, said, “With an expected installed base of 10 million LTE macro radios in high traffic and metro areas by 2021, service providers are expected to capitalize on the improved spectral efficiency made possible with Massive MIMO.”
FDD Massive MIMO is part of a trial with T-Mobile US, on three sites in Baltimore, Maryland, which will be the first time that standardized Massive MIMO will be used to carry commercial LTE traffic using mid-band FDD spectrum.
Massive MIMO on FDD can increase network capacity up to three times and bring up to five times better user throughput, boosting performance for the end users. Today’s global base is primarily on FDD technology and devices, which separates uplink and downlink streams on different radio frequencies.
Commercially available in the second quarter 2018, AIR 3246 will be part of Ericsson Radio System.
June 21, 2017 —
Using Massive MIMO Samsung radios, equipped with vertical and horizontal beam-forming technology, Sprint achieved peak speeds of 330 Mbps per channel using a 20-megahertz channel at 2.5 GHz during field trials in South Korea. Capacity per channel increased about four times, cell edge performance increased three times and overall coverage area improved as compared to current radios.
Günther Ottendorfer, chief operating officer – technology, at Sprint, said. “Massive MIMO is a tremendous differentiator for Sprint because it is easily deployed on 2.5 GHz spectrum due to the small form factor of the radios needed for a high frequency band. In lower frequency bands, wavelengths are much longer and therefore the radios require much larger, impractical form factors. This makes Massive MIMO an important tool for unleashing our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”
The Massive MIMO radios use 128 antenna elements (64 transmit, 64 receive) compared with 16 elements 8T8R antennas 8T8R (8 transmit, 8 receive) radios currently deployed by Sprint across its U.S. network. The purpose of the test was to compare the performance of Massive MIMO radios with 8T8R radios. The testing included multi-user and mobile user cases. Samsung provided the Massive MIMO network infrastructure, as well as the test network design, operation, data collection and processing. Both companies will use the results in preparation for commercial deployment of Massive MIMO in the U.S. and other markets.
In cities across the U.S., Sprint plans to deploy Massive MIMO radios with 128 antenna elements using its 2.5 GHz spectrum. In March, Sprint deployed Gigabit Class LTE on a live commercial network in New Orleans. There Sprint used three-channel carrier aggregation and 60 megahertz of 2.5 GHz spectrum, in combination with 4X4 MIMO and 256-QAM higher order modulation, to achieve Category 16 LTE download data speeds on a TDD network. With Massive MIMO radios using 64T64R, Sprint has the ability to push capacity beyond 1 Gbps to reach 3-6 Gbps per sector.
February 16, 2017 – Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel) and AT&T have complete completed multiple commercial trials featuring a Massive MIMO in licensed Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) LTE spectrum using technology from Blue Danube Systems.
The trials were conducted using Blue Danube’s BeamCraft 500 active antenna product for advanced 3D beamforming, which is capable of delivering 160 watts of transmit power for a Massive MIMO system. Based on its underlying High Definition Active Antenna System (HDAAS) technology, the 96-element BeamCraft 500 can intelligently and seamlessly focus signal energy where it is needed, allowing wireless carriers to better serve high demand areas and minimize interference zones.
“The demand for Massive MIMO solutions continues to increase as industry gears towards delivering 4G advancements and 5G. Mobile carriers are looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to improve network capacity and Blue Danube’s BeamCraft 500 is the first product designed to provide operators a low friction upgrade at existing sites targeting lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) for high-capacity,” said Earl Lum, president at EJL Wireless Research.
The trials supported more than 10 terabits of data during a three-month period through a simple retrofit of the existing antenna with Blue Danube’s BeamCraft 500 unit. At the trial sites, users experienced an improvement of 2X to 5X in throughput in high traffic demand areas using the same transmit power as the legacy installation. Additionally, users received up to 20X improvement in instantaneous video throughput and experienced smooth 1080p HD videos in locations where existing systems were stalling and previously only capable of 144p.
“Massive MIMO opens up a new way to boost capacity in mobile telecom, by using the spatial dimension and multiple antennas to create multiple paths that re-use spectrum more effectively. Instead of waiting for 5G, mobile operators are upgrading thousands of TD-LTE base stations with Massive MIMO this year,” said Joe Madden, founder and principal analyst at Mobile Experts. “It’s an exciting development which, as it gains momentum, may be able to leap into the FDD market as well.”
A second phase of trials is now ongoing to test additional operational modes and traffic scenarios.