Verizon, Ericsson roll out FDD massive MIMO in Irvine, California

Verizon sign from MWCA
Verizon will initially focus its massive MIMO deployment on areas of high traffic.

Add another pursuit of massive MIMO to the list. Verizon and Ericsson have completed their first deployment of Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) massive MIMO on Verizon’s wireless network in Irvine, California, and they'll be following that up with a wider rollout.

Although Ericsson has several massive MIMO solutions, it just announced support for FDD last month with the introduction of a new radio product called AIR 3246. FDD dominates most of the world’s LTE networks, while Time Division Duplexing (TDD) is especially relevant in China.

Verizon’s deployment of FDD massive MIMO will improve both spectral and energy efficiency, increasing network capacity for current compatible devices in the market. For customers, the result will be higher and more consistent speeds for using apps and uploading and downloading files, the companies said in a press release.

“While continuing to drive 5G development, the deployment of Massive MIMO offers very tangible benefits for our customers today,” said Nicola Palmer, chief network officer of Verizon Wireless, in the release. “As we innovate, we learn and continue to lay the groundwork and set the standards for 5G technology. Our collaboration with Ericsson on this new deployment continues to drive industry-wide innovation and advancements.”

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The massive MIMO deployment involves 16 transceiver radio units driving an array of 96 antenna elements supplied by Ericsson. The deployment is running on a 20 MHz block of AWS spectrum, the companies said.

Verizon says four-way transmission has been widely deployed throughout its network and has contributed to significant 4G LTE advancements. 

In massive MIMO, the high number of transmitters enables more possible signal paths. It also enables beamforming, which directs the beam from the cell site directly to where the customer is located, dramatically cutting down on interference. Erik Ekudden, group CTO and head of technology and architecture at Ericsson, has described it as like having a bunch of flashlights targeting users rather than a single floodlight.  

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“Massive MIMO is a key technology enabler for 5G, but already today, 4G LTE service providers and end users can benefit from the superior capacity and network performance this technology enables,” said Niklas Heuveldop, head of Market Area North America at Ericsson, in the release. “The current trial is an important step in the collaboration we have with Verizon to prepare their network for 5G.”

A Verizon spokesperson told FierceWirelessTech that the company will strategically roll out massive MIMO, initially focusing on areas of high traffic. Being a key component of future 5G technology, however, massive MIMO will be deployed widely throughout the network in the coming months and years, the spokesperson said.