ZTE claims world's first in pre-5G test of MIMO

ZTE claimed credit for becoming the world's first company to complete pre-commercial field testing of multi-user and multi-stream transmission on a Massive MIMO (multiple input multiple output) base station, setting "new records in single-carrier transmission capacity and spectral efficiency."

Using its proprietary "pre5G" multi-user/multi-stream spatial multiplexing technology, the company said it achieved peak data throughput that is more than three times that of traditional base stations and average data throughput that exceeds conventional systems by at least five times. The handsets that were used in the trial were based on existing 4G standards.

"Being a pre5G technology, ZTE's Massive MIMO solution is delivering exponential advances to 4G networks without modifying existing air interfaces, making it possible for carriers to provide a 5G-like user experience on existing 4G handsets in an accelerated timeframe," said Xiang Jiying, chief scientist of ZTE, in a press release. "ZTE successfully overcame the challenge of doing multi-user and multi-stream spatial multiplexing in a scattered-signal environment, clearing the main hurdle in the development of Massive MIMO technology."

According to ZTE, several major international telecommunications operators indicated they would deepen their collaborations with ZTE after they were invited to attend the field test.

The latest test came two months after ZTE successfully completed a pre-commercial test of a  pre5G Massive MIMO base station in November 2014. ZTE says pre5G will become available much earlier than 5G and deliver a user experience comparable to 5G, offering high throughput and low latency. Pre5G will use some key 5G technologies while being provisioned on existing 4G user equipment (UE).

Based on its self-developed baseband processor chipset, the company's pre5G solutions offer advances in the level of integration, according to the company. Comprising 128 antennas, ZTE's Massive MIMO base station uses a frontal area similar to existing 8-antennas. Integrating antennas, base station units and RFs in one module, ZTE's Massive MIMO base station also uses only one-third of the installation space of traditional systems, lowering operating costs and total cost ownership of operators.

ZTE says it's committed to ongoing investment in the development of 5G technology. In June 2014, ZTE first articulated its plans for pre5G, focused on development of Massive MIMO solution, as well as core technologies such as MUSA (multi-user shared access), UDN (ultra-dense networks) and virtual cell.

As Mobile World Live points out, ZTE's new "pre-5G" moniker is likely to draw comparisons to Huawei's "4.5G" technology.

To be sure, ZTE has a ways to go if it wants to catch up to the 4.5G and 5G moves of its fellow Chinese rival. Huawei was on a bit of a 5G tear late last year, striking a deal with MegaFon in Russia to demonstrate 5G in a trial during the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Huawei also pledged to launch 5G innovation programs with Singapore's SingTel and announced participation in a large-scale 5G test bed at the University of Surrey in Guildford, England, among other things.

For more:
- see the press release
- see this Mobile World Live article
- see this Telecoms.com article

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