By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq
Huawei this week announced its "All Bands Go to 5G" strategy to implement a 5G-oriented wireless target network. At Global Mobile Broadband Forum 2018, Peter Zhou, CMO of Huawei Wireless Network Product Line, identified three aspects of this strategy, namely: simplified site, simplified network, and automation.
Simplified site means making full outdoor wireless base stations and multi-band antennas a reality.
"Using componentized outdoor BBUs, blade power modules, and blade batteries, full outdoor macro base stations can be deployed on poles without shelters or cabinets. This greatly reduces the upgrade cost of existing sites, decreases the difficulty and cost of obtaining new sites, and helps operators reduce TCO by 30% and above," said Zhou, according to a report from Light Reading.
Huawei's "1+1" antenna solution uses one multi-band antenna to support all sub-3 GHz bands, plus one Massive MIMO AAU to support C-band NR. This setup will cover all operators' frequency bands, and allow them to resolve the problem of insufficient antenna space.
Meanwhile, simplified network involves the construction of an LTE full-service foundation network to achieve 'Zero Fallback' for basic services — such as voice, IoT, and data — when multiple RATs (2G/3G/4G/5G) are expected to co-exist in the next few years. Huawei adds that LTE Evolution+5G NR is gaining industry consensus for 5G wireless target networks. AI-based automation of network planning, deployment, optimization, and service provisioning will enable network O&M to be simplified, unleash network potential, and make networks more intelligent, according to Huawei.
“Every new generation of network comes with new challenges, and this applies to 5G commercial deployment, too,” said Executive Director and President of Carrier business group Ryan Ding, as reported by RCR Wireless. “We take complexity and deliver simplicity.”
To date, Huawei has delivered 10,000 5G base stations, has signed 22 commercial contracts for 5G, and is working with over 50 carriers on 5G commercial tests.
This includes Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo, which has been carrying out a number of 5G trials with Huawei in the 28 GHz band and other candidate spectrum for 5G in dense urban areas, including Tokyo.
NTT DoCoMo and partner Mitsubishi Electric Corporation this week claimed the world’s first 5G mobile telecommunications proof of concept (PoC) for 27 Gbps and 25 Gbps maximum throughputs via one mobile terminal over communication distances of 10 meters and 100 meters, respectively, using the 28GHz radio frequency, according to RCR Wireless.
“Conventional 4G spatial multiplexing technology has limited multiplexing order, so Mitsubishi Electric and DoCoMo developed beamforming technology in an analog domain and inter-beam interference reduction technology to suitably separate overlapping beams with digital signal processing at the base station. The result is 16-beam spatial multiplexing, which has been unachievable with 4G,” the Japanese companies said in a statement.
NTT DoCoMo also has tapped Nokia to integrate its 5G New Radio-based AirScale hardware in its future commercial network.
Also this week, Nokia and U.S. operator T-Mobile announced what they claim to be the global first live network 5G data transmission using low-band spectrum. With the achievement, T-Mobile says it will now be able to "blanket the country with broad 5G in 2020," according to ZDNet.
Unlike millimeter-wave signals, which require direct line-of-sight propagation from towers, low-band frequencies can penetrate buildings and obstacles.
"T-Mobile is the only wireless provider building 5G on multiple spectrum bands, including low-band and millimeter-wave, to ensure the benefits of 5G can reach everyone, and together with Sprint, the New T-Mobile will have critical mid-band spectrum to enable broad AND deep nationwide coverage," T-Mobile stated.
While Verizon and AT&T both focus on mmWave spectrum in launching their respective 5G networks, T-Mobile hopes its multi-band 5G strategy will be more successful in the long run.
Early 5G deployers AT&T and Verizon, however, are expected to remain industry leaders in the U.S. wireless market, whereas T-Mobile and Sprint have a more difficult path when it comes to transitioning to 5G, noted Computerworld. Non-wireless companies such as Comcast, Charter, and Altice also are expected to jump into wireless to offer services like wireless pay TV.
Even next-generation, low-latency satellite networks are expected to become 5G providers and a viable alternative to terrestrial networks. For example, LeoSat is planning a constellation of 78 to 108 satellites in 2019 that will use a laser-based optical mesh network that’s 1.5 times faster than today’s fiber backbones, according to Venture Beat. The company says it can send signals from Singapore to London in 119 milliseconds, roughly a third faster than today’s fastest cable connection.
In Australia, Telstra announced its latest in a string of 5G firsts, this time achieving Australia’s first live 5G 3GPP R15 data call using a commercial chipset in a form factor device on Telstra’s mobile network. Since February, Telstra has achieved the world’s first precinct of 5G-enabled WiFi hotspots, Australia’s first 5G connected car, the world’s first end-to-end 5G non-standalone data call on a commercial mobile network, and the launch of over 50 5G-enabled sites around the country.
“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone as it signals that commercial 5G devices are getting closer and closer. Field testing in our real-world mobile network with this chipset over our commercial spectrum moves the verification well and truly from the lab into the street. The team will continue testing over the coming months to improve data rates and overall performance in readiness for device availability," stated Telstra, as reported by Light Reading.
A report from IEEE Spectrum stated that, with the final release of 5G NR specifications, engineers and developers have now entered into a new stage of test and measurement activities that will solve 5G's technical challenges for testing chipsets and massive multiple-input multiple output (MIMO) antennas, particularly at mmWave frequencies
“Such high-level testing is gradually moving from academia and R&D labs into live networks, with many 5G testbeds and measurement trials taking place in many cities across the globe,” said Rafael Caldeirinha, a researcher and professor at the Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT) in Portugal, to Spectrum. “For COTS RF equipment, fortunately there has been a plethora of test and measurement equipment made readily available, mostly for generic uses, at the same time as 5G New Radio specifications are just being released.”
With networks worldwide getting ready to launch 5G in 2019, OEMs are in the thick of the race to deliver the first true 5G phone. According to Android Authority, no fewer than 15 Android brands could launch a 5G phone next year. Some of the familiar names include Google (Pixel 4, possibly in Q4 2019), Huawei (foldable phone reportedly launching at MWC), and Samsung (dubbed 'Beyond X', launching possibly in February).
While the U.S., European, and Asian markets usually get the limelight in the race to 5G, a report from Saudi Gazette claims that Middle East and North Africa (MENA) also should be on the radar. All six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are set to launch 5G networks commercially from 2019. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) remains a global leader in terms of smartphone adoption, second only to Singapore, with smartphones accounting for 85 percent of total connections.
In regulatory news, German regulator Bundesnetzagentur says it has decided to push through with 5G auction plan in early 2019, despite criticism from German telecom firms and industry lobby group GSMA. The telcos believe the national coverage requirements will be costly and will deter them from investing in next-generation 5G services, and that the plan favors new market entrants.
However, Germany's three main network operators – Deutsche Telekom , Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – all are expected to bid, despite their opposition, according to KFGO.
“Our decision sets vital preconditions for the digital transformation of industry and society,” said Bundesnetzagentur President Jochen Homann, according to Telecoms.com. “Through the award of frequencies, we are creating planning and investment certainty, and contributing to a fast, needs-based rollout of the mobile radio network in Germany.”