Ericsson’s 16-layer multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) capabilities are in the spotlight again this week. This time hitting a benchmark of 5.4 Gbps peak cell capacity during tests over a live C-Band campus network at the Swedish vendor’s U.S. headquarters in Texas.
MU-MIMO helps operators get more out of their spectrum (or increase spectral efficiency), enabling more users served from the same cell site with higher data rates. On Thursday, T-Mobile separately touted spectral efficiency gains in a 5G demo with Ericsson using 16-layer MU-MIMO over 100 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum.
Testing company Signals Research Group was on the scene at Ericsson’s HQ for its own independent a benchmark study of 5G NR MU-MIMO.
The 16-layer downlink aspect for MU-MIMO is significant. Michael Thelander, president of Signals Research Group, in a related video compared that to today’s typical four-layers of Single User MIMO (SU-MIMO) – going to 16 layers “in theory that’s a 4X increase in capacity,” he said.
Ericsson’s commercial equipment is deployed at the C-band test campus, including 64T64R Advanced Antenna System radio, baseband, Router 6000 and core network equipment. The performance happened over 100 MHz of C-band spectrum, with eight end-user devices paired simultaneously.
The telecom vendor is operating in the C-band under special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC.
An FCC auction for 280 MHz of C-band (3.7-3.98) is set to start December 8. U.S. operators are eager to get their hands on more mid-band spectrum, and it’s widely expected to generate significant operator interest - particularly from Verizon.
Kevin Zvokel, Ericsson’s head of Networks North America, said in a statement: “Exceeding 5 Gbps on C Band spectrum sets high expectations for mid-band 5G deployments in the U.S.”
“Ericsson is prepared to help our customers deploy 5G infrastructure now with superior performance and coverage to deliver the full potential of 5G,” Zvokel continued.
At peak performance, the tests achieved 54 bits per second per hertz (54 bps/Hz).
“That might be the fastest data rates anywhere, anyone’s ever seen in a real-world setting,” said Emil Olbrich, VP of Network Technology at Signals Research Group, in the video “So I’m very impressed with what we were able to do with max throughput and working with Ericsson.”
With finite spectrum resources available, operators are constantly looking for ways to improve their resource efficiency. So while peak spectral efficiency isn’t easy to achieve in live commercial network, MU-MIMO is expected to significantly improve overall system spectral efficiency.
“For a mobile operator offering fixed, offering mobile services, by increasing the sector capacity in their network, it both makes it more economical for them, as well as to the consumer it delivers a higher data rate,” Thelander said in the video.