Ericsson showcased a number of new 5G related technologies at Mobile World Congress 2016 (22-25 February 2016) as well as announcing its latest collaborations with leading mobile operators and technology suppliers.
Ericsson and Verizon 5G field trial hits multi-Gbps speeds
At MWC 2016, US mobile operator Verizon and Ericsson announced some results from early field-trials of the latter’s 5G radio prototype and revealed that more trials are to come in 2016
In 5G field trials held in February 2016, Ericsson 5G radio prototypes hit more than 10 Gbps peak throughput, while supporting beamforming and beam tracking features. In the Verizon field trial, the Ericsson 5G Radio Prototypes, mounted outdoors, delivered high-definition video streaming to devices located indoors, emulating a residential customer environment.
5G will encompass an evolution of today's Long Term Evolution (LTE) and the addition of new radio access technologies, often in higher frequencies. Ericsson 5G Radio Prototypes transmit signals using beamforming, which extends the reach of the high frequency bands and allows a user device to be serviced by multiple beams. Beam tracking then monitors the quality of connections available to the device and switches between beams to ensure the best user experience at all times.
Technologies incorporated in the Ericsson 5G radio prototypes include:
- Multi-User MIMO, which ensures that the Ericsson 5G radio prototypes can address many users with the same spectrum, in one sector of a site
- Beamforming, key to enabling the Ericsson 5G radio prototypes to support higher frequency bands, driving increased reach and reduced energy consumption
- Beam tracking, wherein the Ericsson 5G radio prototypes tracks the position and movements of a given device and points one of more beams in the best direction for that device at any given time. These beams can come from multiple transmission points.
- Advanced antenna design incorporating 128 antenna elements and 64 radio chains in each Ericsson 5G radio prototype.
MU-MIMO trial achieves peak downlink throughput over 25 Gbps
Further to the MU-MIMO and beam tracking technology mentioned above, Ericsson said live trials of its 5G radio prototypes delivered more than excess 25 Gbps throughput, while ensuring reach and continuity of high-speed, high frequency, fully mobile connections.
With 5G slated for commercialisation in 2020, leading mobile operators are already planning 5G pre-standard field trials to test advanced technology features that can effectively harness high frequency spectrum.
Ericsson 5G radio prototypes use multi-user, multiple Input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) and Massive MIMO to increase downlink throughput. They also use advanced beam-tracking, which is required in millimetre wave bands to ensure high performance and reliability for users as they move through the network. Millimetre wave bands are expected to be part of the 5G standard.
NTT DOCOMO and Korea Telecom executives attended a live demonstration of the technology at Ericsson’s campus in Kista, Sweden - and the demo was repeated at MWC 2016. The demo used a compact 5G Radio Prototype - the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, which supports the equivalent of 40 LTE carriers.
Ericsson said its 5G radio prototypes are currently delivering more than 12 Gbps mobile experience per user, in live networking environments with downlink throughput of more than 25 Gbps using MU-MIMO.
Ericsson 5G radio prototypes use Multi-User MIMO to transmit data to several user devices using the same time and frequency resources, thus increasing the system's spectral efficiency. Massive MIMO - the combination of MIMO and beamforming with a large number of antenna elements - improves both throughput and energy efficiency.
With beam tracking, the Ericsson 5G radio prototypes track the position and movements of a given device and point one or more beams in the best direction for that device in real-time, to ensure consistently reliable connections. These beams can come from multiple transmission points.
5G will impact the entire mobile network and associated eco-system, from devices to radio access, core and into the cloud. Ericsson 5G Radio Prototypes are radio access products that can be installed indoors or outside, enabling operators to field trial 5G services in their own network environments.
Qualcomm and Ericsson collaborate on 5G
Ericsson also announced a collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies on 5G technology development, early interoperability testing and coordination on select initiatives with leading mobile operators.
The companies will engage in early trials and verification of key 5G technology components to support the technical work required for 3GPP standardization in Release 15, which is expected to be completed in 2018.
In order to enable standards-compliant 5G infrastructure and devices to be available shortly after the completion of Release 15, the companies are also driving interoperability in alignment with 3GPP to enable rapid adoption of new 5G standards.
The collaboration aims to further the goal of completing the first release of 3GPP 5G standards on time by supporting 3GPP with data from joint trials and will enable the two companies to perform early interoperability testing based on the evolving draft standard.
In parallel with 5G development, Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson will continue to work on 4G developments with 3GPP LTE Advanced Pro, working on new technologies such as LTE in unlicensed spectrum (including LTE-U, Licensed-Assisted Access and MulteFire), LTE IoT (including eMTC and NB-IOT) and advanced antenna techniques that bring many of the capabilities and use cases envisioned for 5G into today’s LTE networks.
Ericsson said the recent successful testing of Gigabit-class LTE with a major operator is an example of how collaboration in 3GPP LTE Advanced Pro will pave the path to envisioning 5G use cases and user experiences.
T-Mobile and Ericsson partner for 5G pre-standard trials
Ericsson said it has already announced more than 20 memorandums of understanding to test 5G with operators across the globe and tests of field-trial ready Ericsson 5G radio prototypes are already achieving more than 25 Gbps mobile throughput.
At MWC 2016, T-Mobile and Ericsson announced that they will together develop a 5G pre-standards based test system for lab and field trials in the United States beginning in the second half of 2016.
The two companies will develop and test selected 5G use-cases and services to enable T-Mobile to evaluate emerging 5G technologies, drive 5G development and standardization and to explore new business opportunities.
See also: Ericsson to launch 5G coverage, performance and intelligence solutions at MWC 2016