While a lot of claims are being bandied about 5G during this week's Mobile World Congress 2016, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) says it's the first to run 5G on a commercially available base station. That's a significant claim not only because the 5G standards have not yet been written, but for operators like Verizon (NYSE: VZ), it means they can launch pre-5G sooner rather than later.
Called AirScale, the 5G-ready radio access technology demonstrates that it's not just a marketing message but real equipment is available. "This is of course a good message for operators" because it provides an evolution path toward 5G, and "our aim is really to show … this is proven and a step forward in terms of pre-commercial 5G," Volker Held, head of 5G Market Development for Nokia, told FierceWirelessTech.
In fact, Nokia last month collaborated with Verizon on a 5G field trial conducted out-of-doors and in a residential environment on Verizon's live Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex network. One of the test use cases replaced the wired broadband access to residential and commercial buildings with wireless.
The outdoor-to-indoor exercise involved an apartment in a residential development and equipment running at 73 GHz and 28 GHz. The link achieved speeds of multiple Gbps in a real environment with a spectral bandwidth of 1 GHz and ~1ms one-way air interface latency, according to the companies.
The team also simulated an array of alternative building materials, complete with electrical and plumbing services. The wireless broadband solution delivered Ultra HD 4K video content on multiple end user devices on the 5G wireless network.
Nokia says it was the first time 5G radio access has been demonstrated on commercial hardware. The vendor is eyeing the migration from LTE to early 5G services in 2017, with full 5G commercial services expected in 2020.
What Nokia is showing at Mobile World Congress 2016 includes the pre-standard 5G radio technology based on Nokia AirScale Base Station and AirScale Cloud Base Station Server running on Nokia AirFrame IT hardware. The system uses 8x8 MIMO and an optimized frame structure that cuts latency below 1 millisecond.
It also showed off a high-sensitivity receiver for millimeter wave spectrum that opens up the use of 64 QAM with 2x2 MIMO, thereby enabling multi-Gbps speed. The systems support advanced concepts such as beam steering to precisely track end-user location and demand.
Nokia notes that although mmWave standards are expected to be standardized in 3GPP by 2019, its pre-standard system provides hands-on experience of how to build the final commercial solution.
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