NI touts public demo at 28 GHz using Verizon’s 5G spec

National Instruments
NI gave a public demo of a real-time, over-the-air 28 GHz prototype aligned with the Verizon 5G spec at the IEEE WCNC in San Francisco.

National Instruments (NI), a key platform provider for 5G, announced it conducted the world’s first public demonstration at 28 GHz of a real-time, over-the-air prototype that aligns with Verizon’s 5G specification. The demo was done at the IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC) in San Francisco.

The OFDM system used eight component carriers in a 2x2 downlink MU-MIMO configuration with hybrid beamforming and a self-contained subframe, yielding a 5 Gbit/s peak throughput. NI says it’s scalable to over 20 Gbit/s with eight MIMO streams. 

Verizon announced the availability of its 5G Technology Forum specification in 2015, and while the industry is developing products and technologies to conform to the spec, no public over-the-air demonstrations have occurred at 28 GHz until now, according to NI’s press release.

Developers built the prototype using NI’s mmWave Transceiver System with a new version of the RF mmWave heads operating at 28 GHz and phased array antennas developed by Anokiwave and Ball Aerospace.

“This prototype demonstrates the power of the NI platform,” said James Kimery, director of RF research and SDR marketing at NI, in the release. “Researchers can take advantage of the combination of hardware and software to rapidly prototype new wireless standards and iterate quickly to reduce time to results. They can now prototype and test the Verizon 5G specification and move immediately to 5G New Radio once the standard stabilizes.”

The 28 GHz band is a popular one for 5G tests in the U.S. Verizon's acquisition of XO Communications gives it the ability to lease XO’s LMDS spectrum, which includes 102 licenses in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands, with the option to buy before the end of 2018. AT&T and T-Mobile also have conducted tests in the 28 GHz band, although AT&T is poised to get a bunch of 39 GHz spectrum through its proposed acquisition of FiberTower assets.

The 3GPP RAN Plenary met in Dubrovnik, Croatia, earlier this month and agreed to complete the non-standalone (NSA) implementation of 5G New Radio (NR) by December 2017, paving the way for large-scale trials and deployments based on the specification starting in 2019 instead of 2020.  AT&T said the move will enable the launch of standards-based mobile 5G as soon as late 2018.  

Verizon has acknowledged that equipment based on the Verizon 5GTF spec may not align exactly with the 3GPP’s standards for 5G wireless services, but it’s working closely with its partners and the 3GPP and expects a “light lift” from the precommercial phase to 3GPP standardized equipment.