Ericsson and SoftBank plan to conduct a joint end-to-end trial of 5G in the 4.5 GHz band in urban areas of Japan.
SoftBank still needs to obtain the experimental license in order to conduct the trial, but that’s unlikely to be a problem. The trial is considered pre-commercial and will be the first end-to-end 5G trial including two 5G New Radios, virtual RAN, virtual EPC, beamforming, Massive MIMO functionalities and test support services, according to Ericsson.
The Swedish vendor and the Japanese operator have been working on 5G-related things for some time, including a 5G trial that started in August 2016. At that time, a comprehensive 5G trial included base stations and user equipment with control signal feedback using mid-band spectrum at 4.5 GHz, which is one of the future candidate bands for 5G services in Japan.
After the successful completion of 5G trials in Tokyo in 2016 using 4.5 GHz and 15 GHz, the two companies are moving forward with more advanced tests. In March, they announced a trial using 28 GHz, another popular 5G band around the world. Ericsson’s also working with SoftBank as the Evolved Packet Core supplier of its Cat-M1 and NB-IoT solutions.
In the U.S., Ericsson has an application pending to conduct 5G tests in Philadelphia using 28 GHz. The tests are due to start Oct. 1 and involve Intel, but little else is known about them because Ericsson filed for confidential treatment, citing trade secrets.
What is known is Ericsson is one of the vendors involved in AT&T’s 5G trials in Austin, Texas. There's a new trial in Waco, Texas, using an end-to-end solution with new 28 GHz radios, virtualized RAN and a full 5G virtualized core. AT&T will also conduct trials in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and South Bend, Indiana; Nokia and Samsung are involved as well.
Last year, right before CTIA’s Super Mobility 2016 trade show, Ericsson announced it was commercializing the world’s first 5G New Radio (NR) for massive MIMO, with the first deployments to come in 2017. Dubbed the AIR 6468, the 5G NR combines advanced antennas with a large number of steerable ports to enable beamforming.
Now, as the inaugural Mobile World Congress Americas prepares to kick off in San Francisco this month, Ericsson last month was granted FCC permission to demonstrate FD-MIMO and MU-MIMO capability using the Air 6468 radio at its booth from September 10-15. It also obtained permission to demonstrate 3.5 GHz technology and 5G at 28 GHz at its MWCA booth.