AT&T completed its first public demo of 5G technology with Ericsson last week at the Texas Wireless Summit in Austin, Texas, where attendees got the chance to see multi-gigabit per second bandwidth reaching speeds near 14 Gbps, similar to what AT&T has seen in its 5G lab trials.
Attendees also got a look at how 5G plays a role in 4K HD video, and they learned how Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and dynamic beam tracking and acquisition work. Ericsson received authority to conduct the tests through a Special Temporary Authorization (PDF), or STA, granted by the FCC last month.
While AT&T has various 5G trials and efforts underway, in Austin it’s working with test equipment vendors to co-design and build a new piece of “channel sounding” equipment, according to a blog post by Tom Keathley, senior vice president of Wireless Network Architecture & Design at AT&T. The channel sounding device will measure things such as attenuation, delay, reflections and the specific angles and timing of various beams and reflections.
Like others in the industry who are studying the characteristics of the millimeter wave bands, AT&T said its measurements will help show how millimeter wave signals travel in a variety of conditions and places, examining items in the physical world including foliage, reflections from buildings and surfaces, moving obstacles and reflectors, such as cars and trucks.
In Middletown, New Jersey, AT&T has designed specialized research equipment and constructed an outdoor test range, and it plans to soon take measurements of various types of signal paths under different conditions there. The goal with many of the experiments is to understand the differences at various heights – when leaves are on or off the trees, how dry leaves may have a different impact on signals than wet leaves and even how ice and snow on tree branches may impact signals.
“We’re not just limiting ourselves to work on radio features,” Keathley wrote. “We also have active research programs looking at the new software architectures. Across our 5G and RAN architecture lab and field testing work, we’ve worked with about a dozen companies in various proof-of-concept tests and trials for over 2 years."
Besides Ericsson, AT&T is working with various vendors, including Nokia, Intel and Samsung Networks, to test across a range of frequencies. Ericsson has done demos in the U.S. like the one in Austin last week, using 14679.25-15479.25 MHz frequency because prototypes were designed in Sweden to operate on that band.
Just before the CTIA Super Mobility 2016 trade show this fall, Ericsson announced that it was commercializing the world’s first 5G New Radio (NR) for massive MIMO, with the first deployments to come in 2017. Dubbed the AIR 6468, it supports high-performance beamforming inside the radio, Massive MIMO and Multi-User MIMO 5G Plug-ins. The AIR 6468 also combines advanced antennas with a large number of steerable ports to enable beamforming. Its capabilities are designed to improve the user experience while enhancing capacity and coverage and reducing interference.