Nokia claimed a 5G speed record in tests that used 8-component carrier aggregation and a dual connectivity setup to achieve 4.7 Gbps.
The tests were conducted on the vendor’s Over-the-Air (OTA) network in its R&D lab at Nokia’s North American headquarters in Dallas. Nokia said tests were performed on its AirScale Radio base station hardware and software currently being deployed by major U.S. mobile operators, and achieved speeds using both virtualized RAN and traditional baseband configurations.
Nokia aggregated eight 100 MHz channels of 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave spectrum for 800 MHz of bandwidth, coupled with 40 MHz of LTE using dual connectivity (EN-DC) technology.
Test devices used "were equipped with the next device chipset release of a major provider in that domain,” which “will soon be deployed in commercial end-user devices,” according to a Nokia spokesperson.
With EN-DC, devices can connect to 5G and LTE networks at the same time, which Nokia said enables higher device throughput than connecting to either technology alone.
Earlier this year Nokia boosted 5G capacity by up to four times in lab tests with Sprint, using a software upgrade that included E-UTRAN New Radio – Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) and multi-user-MIMO (MU-MIMO) over the carrier’s 2.5 GHz spectrum. That test delivered 3 Gbps total downlink cell throughput, according to Nokia. Sprint, which is now being absorbed into the new T-Mobile, during its 5G rollout last year emphasized that EN-DC was working simultaneously across both LTE and 5G NR technologies.
According to the vendor, its commercial AirScale solution will enable carriers to sell different enterprise services, like network slicing for mission-critical applications, as well as provide faster speeds for mobile subscribers.
Nokia, which has been weathering some bumpy times including issues with its 5G silicon last year, did not name any partners and a spokesperson said tests were conducted independently.
Tommi Uitto, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, in a statement called the achievement a “significant milestone in the development of 5G services in the U.S." and emphasized operators’ confidence in the Finnish vendor.
“It demonstrates the confidence operators have in our global end-to-end portfolio and the progress we have made to deliver the best possible 5G experiences to customers,” Uitto said. “We already supply our mmWave radios to all of the major U.S. carriers and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them moving forward.”
Nokia says it has 70 commercial 5G contracts globally, with 43 publicly announced. It was just named as the only supplier for Taiwan Star Telecom’s initial non-standalone 5G rollout.
Nokia missed out on some 5G deals as of late though, such as China operators China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile. Rival Ericsson snagged a portion of the operators’ 5G RAN contracts and will also supply gear for China Telcom’s 5G Core, but the bulk reportedly went to China’s domestic vendors Huawei and ZTE. Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri, who is stepping down in August, said last month the Finnish vendor won deals for China Unicom’s 5G core and virtualized IMS.
Of the latest speed achievement, Stéphane Téral, chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research, commented: “8-component carrier aggregation in the millimeter wave domain shows the world that there is more than massive MIMO and open RAN to not only truly deliver the promise of commercial 5G, but also pave the way for future Terahertz system.”
When it comes to 5G speed achievements, 8-component carrier aggregation (8CC) has been a common theme. In mid-February, Ericsson touted its own 5G speed record of 4.3 Gbps, aggregating 800 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum in interoperability tests using commercial equipment. Later that month, Verizon alongside partners Samsung and Qualcomm used 8CC with 28 GHz band spectrum to hit 5G speeds of 4.2 Gbps on the carrier’s live network in Texas. Verizon executives said at the time that eight channel carrier aggregation using mmWave spectrum would be “widely available” on the 5G network in 2020.