China's ZTE is claiming a 5G breakthrough with its new multi-user shared access (MUSA) technology, which the company said can triple overload capacity on wireless access networks.
ZTE says its MUSA algorithm delivered a more than 200 percent improvement in the overload radio, which the company said will help transition networks to the Internet of Things (IoT) era. Future networks are expected to support many more "things" than current iterations.
MUSA is one of ZTE's research projects related to what it calls "Pre5G," which provides commercial 4G LTE end users with 5G-like access experience. ZTE says pre5G will become available much earlier than 5G and will deliver a user experience comparable to 5G, with high throughput and low latency--but pre5G will use existing 4G user equipment.
Other Pre5G technologies developed by ZTE include Massive MIMO and Ultra-Dense Networks (UDN). ZTE expects its Pre5G technologies to be commercially deployed this year.
ZTE also said it successfully tested its Pre5G UDN solution, which makes full use of its Pico RRU hardware platform and Cloud Radio interference cancellation technology. The company said the solution supports a denser deployment of base stations.
"The validation of MUSA and UDN technologies further enhances the Pre5G solutions," said Xiang Jiying, chief scientist of ZTE, in a press release. "The Pre5G solution will help operators exponentially enhance the access rate and overall network capacity by leveraging existing resources in the next 3–5 years. Before standardization of 5G technologies, this solution can effectively mitigate the challenges of data traffic surge, and help operators seize market opportunities and achieve better business development."
Earlier this year, ZTE said it was the world's first company to complete pre-commercial field testing of multi-user and multi-stream transmissions on a Massive MIMO base station, setting "new records in single-carrier transmission capacity and spectral efficiency."
Although ZTE continues to claim technology breakthroughs, it may not be able to keep pace with its larger rivals, a LightReading report suggests. Generating revenues of $13 billion in 2014, ZTE would be just half the size of either Nokia or Ericsson in sales terms, and less than one-third as big as Huawei, which made $46.5 billion in revenues last year, according to LightReading.
Last year, ZTE spent about 10 percent of its revenues on R&D, while Huawei invested $6.6 billion in this area and Ericsson spent $4.1 billion, LightReading reports.
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