Ericsson makes 5G data call using dynamic spectrum sharing

Ookla analyst Milan Milanovic speculates about which bands Verizon might use DSS. (Ericsson)

Ericsson says it made the world’s first 5G data call using dynamic spectrum sharing. The call was made on a 3GPP Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) low band using commercial hardware and Ericsson Radio System software.

The data call was set up in August at Ericsson’s lab in Ottawa, Canada using an Ericsson macro radio that supported both 4G and 5G. The call was made between a 5G mobile test device powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System and a commercial LTE smartphone.

The LTE smartphone and the 5G testing device data call sections were running simultaneously on the same FDD spectrum.

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This is innovative because in the past, new generation radio access technologies were deployed on separate spectrum blocks. This required operators to buy new spectrum or re-farm their existing spectrum. Spectrum re-farming is a slow process that could take as long as 10 years to complete. With dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS), operators can introduce 5G immediately in the same band as 4G. The technology dynamically allocates spectrum resources between 4G and 5G based on user demand.

RELATED: Marek’s Take: Dynamic spectrum sharing may change the 5G deployment game

Ericsson says its DSS is based on proprietary scheduler algorithms that enable optimal performance as the mix of 4G and 5G devices in the network changes over time.

DSS and Verizon

Verizon’s CEO Hans Vestberg has repeatedly said that the carrier plans to use Ericsson’s DSS as an integral part of its 5G strategy. However, Ericsson’s DSS technology only works on its New Radio equipment deployed in the same spectrum currently being used for LTE.  And, Verizon has not divulged whether it is deploying Ericsson NR equipment in any of its LTE spectrum. When talking about 5G, Verizon mainly talks about its mmWave deployments in high frequency spectrum that has never been used for LTE.

On an earnings call with investors earlier this year, T-Mobile CEO John Legere said, “To get to dynamic spectrum sharing, you’ll deploy New Radio. So, I am yet to hear anybody in Verizon declare that they are deploying New Radio in low-band or mid-band. And, if you want to use DSS, you are effectively committing in the same breath to rolling out 5G in mid- and low band. I haven’t heard that yet as a declared strategy for a Verizon.”

RELATED: T-Mobile says dynamic spectrum sharing needs low- and midband spectrum

Ookla analyst Milan Milanovic told FierceWireless that Verizon owns spectrum in band 2 in the 1900 MHz range, band 4 in the 2100 MHz range, band 5 in the 850 MHz range, and band 13 in the 700 MHz range.

“My assumption would be that they [Verizon] will use band 2, which is deployed everywhere and the AWS band 4,” said Milanovic. “I think that’s the most likely they’ll use. But, we’re just guessing. This is a good strategy to compete on 5G coverage. I think most operators would do the same thing without greenfield FDD spectrum.”

In addition to deploying New Radio equipment in its existing LTE spectrum, Verizon will also need 5G-capable user equipment. Although Ericsson used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G Modem for its 5G data call, Milanovic said current commercial devices sold by Verizon are powered by the Snapdragon X50 modem.

Durga Malladi, Qualcomm’s general manager for 4G/5G, said in a statement today, “With DSS support included in our comprehensive Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System architecture, we’re looking forward to helping fast-track the mobile industry to nationwide coverage during the second phase of 5G commercialization next year.”

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