Friday, 20 January 2017

The race to 5G: Why advanced operators are scrambling to deploy Massive MIMO

By Jayne Garfitt For Total Telecom
Thursday 15 December 16

While the discussion around 5G is undoubtedly mounting, operators remain elusive about the timeline for deployment. But that does not mean progress is not being made, with several leading operators turning to Massive MIMO to upgrades their networks. What is Massive MIMO? As a Space Division Multiple Access (SDMA) technology, Massive MIMO has an ultra-large-scale multi-antenna system at its core where each module integrates 64 or above RF channels and built-in antennas. It features the maximum specification and highest integration levels in the industry, supports all mainstream LTE TDD frequency bands and is compatible with all existing 4G terminals…

While the discussion around 5G is undoubtedly mounting, operators remain elusive about the timeline for deployment. But that does not mean progress is not being made, with several leading operators turning to Massive MIMO to upgrades their networks.


What is Massive MIMO?
As a Space Division Multiple Access (SDMA) technology, Massive MIMO has an ultra-large-scale multi-antenna system at its core where each module integrates 64 or above RF channels and built-in antennas. It features the maximum specification and highest integration levels in the industry, supports all mainstream LTE TDD frequency bands and is compatible with all existing 4G terminals. Meanwhile, 3D beamforming technology allows 3D coverage to be provisioned to tall buildings and surrounding roads.
 
All of this makes the technology particularly suitable for deploying in stadiums or squares, cities with dense populations and a high number of high-rise buildings, shopping malls, transport stations and dense residential areas like universities.
 
So, why should operators care?
In a nutshell, Massive MIMO enables the dedicated radio wave to be assigned to individual user equipment, allowing all users to obtain excellent mobile communication, even if in a station and a busy street where communication speed would usually be decreased.
 
It achieves this by enabling operators to increase spectral efficiency by five times, maximising their current investment on existing sites and spectrum without adding new spectrum. 
 
In addition, the 3D coverage provided by beamforming technology enables a single site to effectively solve coverage problems that previously could only be resolved with multiple legacy base stations. Consequently, the Massive MIMO solution significantly decreases networking costs while enhancing intensive coverage.
 
The support of LTE TDD bands is also an important factor, with LTE TDD being the technology to bring high-data services to life through its ability to exploit unpaired frequency bands. It has already gained wide ecosystem acceptance and backing from leading infrastructure and device vendors and holds huge promise in helping mobile operators meet the growing demand for data network capacity coming from services associated with 5G.
 
Massive MIMO is based on BBU-AAU distributed architecture, it can easily expand the capacity without changing antenna, and BBU can smoothly evolve to 5G by changing to new 5G capable baseband card.
 
And there’s more good news…
If this all sounds too good to be true operators can rest assured that it isn’t, with a number of carriers already deploying the technology – and with great results.
 
SoftBank commercially launched Massive MIMO on a largescale in Japan in September, while Vodafone had finished testing Massive MIMO on their commercial networks in October, and China Mobile Hong Kong had also finished its Massive MIMO trial in November and commercial launch is expected in 2017. In November, China Mobile Shanghai launched world's first commercial wideband Massive MIMO, furthermore, Mobily just finished its Massive MIMO trial, and with many other operators in Asia and Europe expected to quickly follow.
 
The first Massive MIMO solution deployment, though, was carried out in September 2015 by China Mobile Shanghai and The Research Institute of China Mobile together with Huawei. Tests conducted using commercial smartphones, indicated a downlink throughput per single cell exceeding 650Mbps with a single 20MHz carrier and broke the record for air-interface throughput in commercial LTE TDD networks. 
 
Conclusion
The verification of this solution in such a partnership demonstrates exactly how the industry should be working together to verify solutions that will ultimately lead to the achievement of 5G. 
 
Due to the advantages it offers in performance, speed and capacity, Massive MIMO clearly offers a significant step forward in the race to 5G and in a conversation punctuated with more question marks than full stops, it is no surprise that the solution is gaining popularity among operators so quickly.
 
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Knowledge Network Articles enable our partners to create high value content to express a particular view or highlight an opinion in an editorial style environment on Total Telecom, they are not produced by our editors and do not reflect the views of Total Telecom. To find out about content creation opportunities for your organisation visit the information page or email info@totaltele.com
Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Newsletter signup

Quickly get on board and up to date with the telecoms industry