Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) is partnering with cloud and enterprise powerhouse IBM to jointly research phased-array antenna designs for "5G" networks, though such networks are still being contemplated and have not yet been defined. The companies said the goal of the partnership is to provide customers with data speeds that are "orders of magnitude faster" than what is available today.
The two companies said they will research phased-array antenna techniques and work to develop prototype systems that will serve more customers, enable new services to operate on the same spectrum frequency and provide real-world speeds that are competitive with existing cable and wired broadband speeds.
Ericsson noted that a phased-array design allows for more directional antennas that are electrically-steerable and will have significant weight and flexibility advantages over existing mechanical antennas. The vendor said ultimately it will be able to integrate hundreds of antennas and radios on a single chip smaller than a credit card, allowing the technology to be used in small cells for added capacity.
Along with Huawei, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and other vendors, Ericsson has been leading the charge to develop new 5G technologies, though those are not expected to be commercially available until 2020. Huawei hopes to demonstrate 5G technology in partnership with Russian operator MegaFon in a trial during the FIFA World Cup in 2018. SK Telecom wants to show off 5G technology by the time South Korea hosts the Winter Olympics in 2018.
In a recent interview with FierceWirelessTech, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said he thinks 5G networks are going to be based around higher speeds and lower latency. He added that the requirements from the industry "are bold and we are working on them."
"I'm working from the view of what will you do with the network. I am thinking of what the network will have to provide in the 2020 time frame," he said. "My view is the network has to be so much smarter. We will have so many more devices and so many applications that will require data that the network needs to be able to orchestrate those requirements quickly and efficiently."
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