Huawei, Telefonica share milestone in 5G RAN architecture

Madrid Spain
Huawei and Telefónica are testing 5G and proving out concepts at their Joint Innovation Lab in Madrid, Spain.

Huawei and Spain’s Telefónica say they’ve achieved a new milestone with the world’s first proof-of-concept (PoC) 5G user centric and no cell (UCNC) radio access network (RAN) architecture, tested in their 5G Joint Innovation Lab in Madrid, Spain.

The companies say their PoC tests, conducted at the Telefónica-Huawei 5G Joint Innovation Lab, led to:

  • a 233 percent increase in the number of 5G connections per cell
  • a decrease in signaling overhead of 78 percent
  • a 95 percent decrease in the latency compared with state-of the-art LTE

It’s just one of a number of 5G innovation projects the two companies are conducting as a result of a 5G & NG-RAN Joint Innovation agreement they signed in June. At that time, Ignacio Berberana, a member of Telefonica’s global CTO team, explained the concept of a cell-less RAN to, noting that it’s a radically different way of handling mobility.

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“We think that there needs to be a new way of supporting mobility, in the sense that it should not be linked to a specific cell so much, but to the user that is roaming between connections,” he told “We call this the cell-less radio access network, and we think this is a good idea if we are going to have a network with Massive MIMO support where the cell edge is not so clear.”

Some have likened it to Artemis’ pCell technology, which has been described as a software-defined radio Cloud-RAN that connects through fronthaul to pWave radios distributed throughout a coverage area. Whereas conventional cell towers transmit signals that avoid interfering with each other, creating large cells, pCell radios transmit signals that deliberately interfere with each other, combining to synthesize tiny pCells. Every mobile device has its own pCell, or “personal cell,” each getting the full spectrum capacity.

According to a Huawei press release, UCNC defines an “ECO State” as a new device protocol state for sending short packets directly without the need of over-the-air signaling, thereby making sure that users are always connected. Another key technology is SCMA-based Grant Free Access, which can simplify uplink access procedures to reduce latency and increase the number of connected devices.

In addition to the UCNC PoC tests, Huawei and Telefónica successfully demonstrated the mmWave Multi-User MIMO technology based on 5G NR (New Radio) and Massive MIMO TDD technology. They achieved 70 Gbps cell throughput with mmWave Multi-User MIMO by delivering more than 35 Gbps data rates to each user, which is 100 times faster than current LTE data rates.

The next phase of the PoC test involves enhancing the cell edge spectral efficiency to avoid end-user experience degradation at the cell edges and tackle service interruption across the network.


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