Nokia showcases 5G-ready technology at MWC 2016

Nokia demonstrated its 5G-ready AirScale radio feature MIMO and millimetre wave technology; mobile edge computing and ultra-low latency technology also on show; 5G collaborations with China Mobile and Verizon

Nokia showcases 5G-ready technology at MWC 2016

Nokia took the opportunity to demonstrate a number of different pre-5G and 5G technologies at Mobile World Congress 2016, some of which can be exploited by mobile operators ahead of the 5G standard being finalised (expected by end of 2019).

Among the technologies on show were Nokia’s 5G-capable AirScale radio, mobile edge computing (MEC) with UK mobile operator EE, and ultra-low latency solutions for robots. Nokia also highlighted some recent collaborations and 5G trials with China Mobile and Verizon in the US.

Nokia demonstrates 5G radio access on a commercially available base station

Nokia used MWC 2016 to showcase how its commercially available AirScale radio access can support 5G technologies to give operators the confidence that their hardware investments today will meet future demands.

MWC 2016 was the first time Nokia has demonstrated 5G radio access on commercial hardware. Nokia said this means operators will be able to launch 5G earlier and at lower cost, and migrate their existing LTE infrastructure to early 5G services in 2017, with full 5G commercial services expected in 2020.

Nokia showed how operators can test 5G use cases in their networks using all spectrum bands, including sub-6 GHz for wide area coverage and early market entry, with cmWave and mmWave providing very high communications capacity.

Such early testing ahead of full 5G standards, currently being devised by various standards bodies with the aim of having them in place by 2020, will help ensure that subscribers get  superior and consistent performance of 5G from day one.

At MWC 2016 Nokia showcased:

  • Pre-standard 5G radio technology on Nokia AirScale Base Station and AirScale Cloud Base Station Server running on Nokia AirFrame IT hardware. The system uses 8x8 MIMO and an optimised frame structure that cuts latency below 1 millisecond. The ultra-low latency and multi-Gbps throughput lets users collaborate in real-time regardless of location in a multi-user, virtual reality demonstration. To read more about Airscale, please click here.
  • A high-sensitivity receiver for mmWave opens up the use of 64QAM with 2x2 MIMO, thereby enabling multi-Gbps speed. As previously shown, the systems also support advanced concepts such as beam steering to precisely track end-user location and demand. Although mmWave are expected to be standardised in 3GPP by 2019, Nokia's pre-standard system provides hands-on experience of how to build the final commercial solution.
  • Multi-connectivity concept to enable devices to connect simultaneously to LTE and 5G radio for smooth evolution as 5G is deployed on top of LTE.
  • Nokia Services will ensure flawless hybrid network performance with accurate 3D planning of small cells and Predictive Services.

Hossein Moiin, CTO of Nokia Mobile Networks, said: "This is the industry's first demonstration of how 5G will work in practice, going beyond previous experimental systems. We are showing 5G live on our commercial AirScale radio access product - it's a major advance because it means that 5G is no longer a distant vision. Now operators can invest with confidence in network equipment that will support both existing and 5G technologies when they are standardized."

Nokia and EE demonstrate Mobile Edge Computing

Nokia took the opportunity at MWC 2016 to demonstrate mobile edge computing (MEC) technology in the GSMA Innovation City to show how real-time video can be used to enhance consumer entertainment and security at events.

The demo illustrates how operators can meet high-bandwidth low-latency demands at busy locations, as well as generating more revenues with new services. MEC is seen as a key building block for 5G, but it will be ready before that and operators are likely to implement it ahead of the 5G standard coming to fruition.

The MWC demonstrations follow earlier ones conducted by Nokia and EE at Wembley Stadium in London where MEC can enable the rapid delivery of innovative services, including ultra low-latency video for stadium security and customer experience applications at high-traffic locations.

Major events are seen as a good example of where MEC can pay dividends. When people attend a major event today, they want a mobile experience to complement the thrill of live sport or music. Fans want connectivity that's reliable, with great content like stats, integration with social media, access to replays, and multiple camera angles.

Nokia argues that event organisers and service providers need to provide this connectivity and enable a great content experience. At the same time, mobile connectivity can also be used to maintain a high level of safety for all. Nokia and EE are actively involved in developing the Mobile Edge Computing ETSI Standard.

At the GSMA Innovation City during Mobile World Congress 2016, Nokia and EE conducted two demonstrations of Nokia's zone applications deployed over a MEC-enabled LTE network:

  • Using Edge Video Orchestration, the Mobile Live TV program was delivered simultaneously to multiple LTE-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets, reducing latency to hundreds of milliseconds
  • Secure, high-performance technology for managing crowd safety and reporting incidents will provide immediate and complete situational awareness within a venue, managing multiple video streams from LTE-connected bodycams transmitted to control room staff.

MEC solution details:

  • Deploying applications at the network edge brings content closer to consumers and reduces latency
  • Nokia zone applications combine LTE and Wi-Fi with Mobile Edge Computing
  • Mobile Edge Computing combined with LTE-broadcast (eMBMS) enables efficient, rapid delivery of live content and requires no modification to the core network

Mansoor Hanif, Director of RAN development at EE, said: "This high-performance and scalable technology offers huge opportunities. We have already shown how it provides our subscribers with a unique video experience in a stadium environment in the most efficient way, and we will continue to work with Nokia to develop new ways of applying the technology."

Richard Wilson, EE Customer Team head at Nokia, said: "These are just two of the possibilities for the new Nokia zone applications. The incident-reporting solution is the first of its type to allow transmission of multiple real-time video feeds from smartphones and bodycams to a central control room using a Mobile Edge Computing-enabled LTE network. The power of Mobile Edge Computing will expand the possibilities of the connected world and meet the complex demands and security needs of everyone in high-traffic locations."

China Mobile and Nokia showcase 5G-enabled ultra-fast robot collaboration

China Mobile and Nokia Networks demonstrated 5G-enabled synchronized collaboration of robots at Mobile World Congress 2016. 5G networks will address important aspects of industry automation, helping to create fully automated and flexible production systems and increasing overall manufacturing and logistics productivity.

The joint demonstration shows potential 5G applications in machine-to-machine communications in the industrial automation era. The ultra-low latency system is used as a communication platform connecting the robots to a central server, resulting in fast and synchronized collaboration to balance a ball on a moving platform. Once the user moves a ball in any direction, the robots coordinate and react to keep to ball at its pre-defined location.

Closed-loop control applications in industry automation will require virtual zero latency and high reliability to prevent equipment failure, production interruption, or even loss of life. 5G will provide this, meaning manufacturing industries will be better equipped to achieve their productivity targets through a unified, computing infrastructure instead of today's fragmented industrial standards.

Recent highlights of the successful co-operation between China Mobile and Nokia Networks:

  • Nokia Networks, China Mobile sign MoU to cooperate on 5G development. Agreement covers work on the research, standardization and industrialization of key 5G features such as multi-connectivity and high-speed seamless mobility
  • China Mobile demonstrates 220 Mbps peak data transmission rates based on 3.5 GHz interband TD-LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation at Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2015
  • Nokia Networks, China Mobile and Ooredoo achieve 4.1 Gbps speed with TDD-FDD carrier aggregation
  • Nokia Networks, China Mobile triple TD-LTE throughput using 3 carrier aggregation at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona
  • Nokia Networks, Shanghai Mobile show world's first TD-LTE-Advanced small cell carrier aggregation in a live operator network.

Other Nokia 5G demonstrations at MWC 2016

5G Autonomous vehicles: 5G facilitates autonomous driving by providing ultra-low latency connectivity for fast-moving autonomous systems, which require constant and virtually uninterrupted communication flow to improve road safety and reduce congestion.

5G Interactive Virtual reality: Through 1 millisecond latency and high throughput, two mobile virtual reality users will be able to collaborate as if they are in the same physical location. Remote collaboration and telepresence will optimize various business applications and processes, including distance learning, manufacturing and the maintenance and repair of machines.

5G Massive Capacity: Bell Labs has also developed aggregation technologies that will deliver record-breaking peak rates of 30 Gbps and provide a more consistent and reliable quality of experience for subscribers. This is achieved by aggregating different mobile and fixed technologies into a single, ultra-capacity stream for the end user. These innovations allow operators to maximize the utilization of their network assets. 

5G Massive Connectivity: Nokia demonstrated the transformations in the cellular network to achieve record-breaking numbers of device connections and connectivity with new technology innovations from Bell Labs. Using new waveforms, connectionless messaging and flexible application-based routing, this ultra-low latency support will usher in the new IoT era with the automation of everything.

Verizon and Nokia conduct live 5G pre-commercial trial in Dallas-Fort Worth

At MWC 2016, Nokia said it is accelerating the testing of 5G technology in real-world environments, most recently collaborating with Verizon on a field trial that is the first conducted completely out-of-doors and in a residential environment. The two companies performed the successful pre-commercial 5G trial in January 2016 on Verizon's live Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex network.

One of the use cases tested was for extreme broadband in which wired broadband access to residential and commercial buildings was replaced with wireless. Nokia and Verizon tested outdoor to indoor penetration to an apartment in a residential development. To complement this, the team also simulated a wide array of alternative building materials, complete with electrical and plumbing services.

The wireless broadband solution successfully delivered Ultra HD 4K video content on multiple end user devices on the 5G wireless network with superior speed of traffic and data throughput. 5G is an alternative to fibre to the home to speed up deployments for broadband services that provide far more capacity than current fibre connections.

An additional use case trialled the substantially reduced 5G latency in applications where the latency of feedback is critical, such as telemedicine, rehabilitation, gaming and entertainment, as well as in areas requiring the handling of dangerous materials, like public safety.

Nokia 5G trial system with Verizon involved:

  • Nokia used its pre-commercial radio system, running at 73GHz and 28GHz providing a fixed wireless broadband services environment.
  • The link achieved speeds of multiple Gbps in a real environment with a spectral bandwidth of 1GHz and ~1ms one-way air interface latency.

See also:

Nokia accelerates centralised RAN deployment with mobile fronthaul solution

Nokia to demonstrate 5G applications and capabilities at MWC 2016

Nokia to show LTE-Advanced Pro with 3D beamforming to triple site capacity at MWC 2016

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