By J. Sharpe Smith
February 25, 2016 — For those wondering what the fifth generation of cellular (5G) will look like, vendors and carriers were only so happy to provide a glimpse at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week. Here is a roundup of this week that shows the industry moving forward with testing high-speed, low-latency technology.
Verizon, Nokia Conduct 5G Pre-commercial Trial in Dallas-Fort Worth
Nokia chose Barcelona to announce that it is collaborating with Verizon on a “pre-commercial” 5G field trial conducted completely out-of-doors and in a residential district in January on Verizon’s live Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex network. The test sought to show that 5G can be an alternative to fiber to the home.
The test replaced wired broadband access to residential and commercial buildings with broadband wireless, testing outdoor to indoor penetration to an apartment, delivering Ultra HD 4K video content on multiple end user devices on the 5G wireless network.
Nokia’s fixed wireless system used spectrum in 73 GHz and 28 GHz bands, achieving multiple Gbps speeds.
Ed Chan, Senior Vice President, technology strategy & planning for Verizon, said: “Verizon continues to accelerate innovation around 5G technology by working closely with our partners. We were the first to launch 4G nationwide. With 5G, we will again drive innovation across the technology landscape.”
Nokia Bell Labs Demos 30 Gbps Speeds to the End User
Meanwhile, Nokia announced its Bell Labs has demonstrated peak wireless data speeds of more than 30 Gpbs to an end user, and over 1 million simultaneous connections in a single cell.
On Febuary 23, T-Mobile and Ericsson announced they will jointly develop a pre-standards-based 5G test system for lab and field trials in the United States with field trials beginning in second half of 2016. They will deploy a 5G pre-standards based 28 GHz test system for lab and field trials in the United States for selected use cases.
Neville Ray said the carrier will use its existing LTE technology and spectrum investments for 5G field trials, and will be on “a direct path to 5G service once 5G consumer smartphones and standards are available in the 2020+ timeframe.”
Nokia Launches 5G-ready RAN
Nokia launched a complete radio access generation, call AirScale. The cloud-based radio access network (RAN), allows any radio technology (2G, 3G, TDD-LTE, FDD-LTE, LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Pro) and carrier-grade Wi-Fi to run simultaneously in a single base station. And it is 5G-ready.
Huawei and Deutsche Telekom Test 5G Network Slicing
Also in Barcelona, Huawei and Deutsche Telekom said they have conducted a 5G end-to-end (E2E) network slicing demonstration in Deutsche Telekom’s 5G:haus lab based in Bonn, Germany. The 5G E2E network partitions a single physical network into multiple virtual mobile networks to support different services. Additionally, Bell Labs demonstrated miniature autonomous cars enabled by its 5G e2e architecture at the Mobile World Congress.
In October, SK Telecom and Ericsson tested a similar 5G slicing network.
Last Year Also Saw 5G Testing Activity
Last October, Huawei and DOCOMO announced a joint large-scale multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology test, connecting 24 user devices on a macro-cell using sub-6GHz frequencies. It validated two new 5G air interfaces: Sparse Code Multiple Access (SCMA) and Filtered OFDM (F-OFDM) in the field. The cell average downlink throughput of MU-MIMOs was 1.34 Gbps, with 3.6 Gbps on download peak throughput, using a 100 megaherz-wide channel: more than 10 times faster than single layer single-user MIMO technology.
SK Telecom Demos Nokia cmWave Technology
In October 2015, SK Telecom and Nokia Networks did a 5G trial in South Korea, which achieved 19.1 Gbps transmission speed over the air using 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), 8×8 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) transmission. Nokia Networks’ cmWave technology enables a user to download a full-HD movie in a matter of seconds.
Alex Jinsung Choi, chief technology officer, SK Telecom, said: “The 19.1 Gbps transmission speed we achieved almost meets one of the key capabilities of 5G defined by the ITU-R. SK Telecom will continue to work closely with Nokia Networks to maintain this momentum towards creating a new era of communications.”
Ericsson 5G Delivers Multi-gigabit speeds
Last July, Ericsson reported that it had conducted a demonstration of its live, over-the-air pre-standard 5G technology, which achieved 5 Gbps throughput in the 15 GHz frequency band in the OEM’s lab in Kista, Sweden. Ericsson said it is now working with global operators in its 5G test bed, which is capable of speeds up to 25 Gbps.
Companies to Form 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance
How is all this technology trial information going to be organized so it can adequately inform the 3GPP standards process? KT, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom and Verizon have agreed to form a global initiative, called the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance, which will develop a common platform for different 5G trial activity.
The 5G trial specification will promote a collaborative approach to the technical 5G trials and will not be intended to limit on-going standardization discussions and decisions of the 3GPP. Hence, a variety of different industry partners — network vendors, chipset/device vendors, operators, test equipment vendors – will be able to join and contribute.