Ericsson launches 5G Plug-Ins that address drone, smart car use cases

Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) announced the launch of its 5G Plug-Ins, which it describes as software-driven innovations that bring essential 5G technology concepts to today's cellular networks.

In so doing, the company said it is addressing diverse 5G use cases from mobile HD video, driverless buses and haptic-feedback-enabled drones to fiber-equivalent residential wireless access.

"5G will be driven by new use cases requiring higher performance – from connected cars with perfect driving records, to immersive augmented reality for remote surgery, to multi-K movies on mobile devices," Arun Bansal, senior vice president and head of Business Unit Radio, Ericsson, said in a press release. "5G will unlock new consumer and industrial applications, and with our 5G field trial plans already well underway, we are now introducing Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins, which enable the evolutionary steps that operators need to take as they develop networks to secure their 5G future."

Ericsson says it's already working with more than 20 leading operators worldwide on 5G networking and use cases. Just this week, it was part of a demo that Sprint (NYSE: S) staged at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia during the Copa América Centenario soccer tournament.

But Ericsson points out that 5G applications and use cases will leverage existing networks, and its 5G Plug-Ins are specifically focused on capabilities that operators can leverage within current networks to facilitate their evolution to 5G. "With 5G Plug-Ins, mobile operators can begin to trial and implement 5G technology as early as this year, and evolve to 5G at their own pace," the company said in the release.

For specifics, here's the rundown of what Ericsson's 5G Plug-Ins include:

  • Massive MIMO Plug-In: Massive MIMO is the combination of Single-User MIMO (SU-MIMO) and beamforming supported by advanced antennas with a large number of steerable ports. Massive MIMO improves both the user experience and the capacity and coverage of the network. 
  • Multi-User MIMO Plug-In: Building on Massive MIMO, Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) transmits data to multiple user devices using the same time and frequency resources and coordinates beamforming. MU-MIMO provides a better user experience, enhances network capacity and coverage, and reduces interference.
  • RAN Virtualization Plug-In: RAN Virtualization improves network efficiency and performance by enabling Virtual Network Functions (VNF) to be centralized on a common platform supporting both 4G and 5G.
  • Intelligent Connectivity Plug-In: Where 5G and 4G coverage areas overlap, Intelligent Connectivity enables the network to robustly anchor and intelligently route data based on application requirements and network resource availability, increasing the combined data throughput of 4G and 5G resources.
  • Latency Reduction Plug-In: This Plug-In shortens access procedures and modifies the frame structure to enable instant network access and more frequent transmissions. This in turn reduces time-to-content while enabling real-time communications for key 5G applications such as smart vehicles.

Ericsson says its 5G Plug-Ins are available for operator trials starting in 2016 and will be available for commercial networks starting in 2017.

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