Menu
Nokia, Sprint show a massive MIMO antenna to boost cell service

Nokia, Sprint show a massive MIMO antenna to boost cell service

The system is made up of 128 small antennas that can better serve multiple users

IDG

IDG

A cellular base station with 128 antennas may soon help some mobile operators serve many more subscribers in crowded areas.

Nokia demonstrated the technology, called massive MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) with Sprint at Mobile World Congress on Monday. It’s one of several types of advances in LTE that could eventually come into play with 5G, too.

Massive MIMO uses a large number of small antennas to create dedicated connections to multiple devices at once. In this case, the base station has 64x64 MIMO, or 64 antennas each for upstream and downstream signals. In Nokia and Sprint’s tests, it increased the capacity of a cell by as much as eight times for downloads and as much as five times for uploads.

For the demonstration, the base station connected with eight commercial, off-the-shelf phones behind a wall of Nokia's booth and streamed data to and from them.

20170227 nokia demo of massive mimo Stephen Lawson

A diagram in Nokia's booth at Mobile World Congress showed how a demonstration of massive MIMO worked, on Feb. 27, 2017.

Stephen Laws

The system isn’t designed to give users dramatically higher speeds but to help give users better access to the capacity of a cell. Typical base stations today have 2x2 antenna systems with just two antennas each for uploads and downloads. Rather than everyone in an area sharing those few antennas, they’ll be able to get their own lanes.

Sprint is jumping on this technology, planning trials soon and commercial deployment soon after, because it’s uniquely positioned among U.S. carriers to use it, said Gunther Ottendorfer, Sprint’s chief operating officer of technology.

For one thing, it’s the only operator in the country with commercially licensed frequencies high enough, at 2.5GHz, to take advantage of massive MIMO at this scale, Ottendorfer said. (In trials, some other carriers are using massive MIMO with other types of frequencies.) Because the size of antennas is defined by wavelengths, higher frequencies mean smaller antennas, so a 64x64 system for more typical cellular frequencies would be too big to be practical. Sprint already uses 8x8 MIMO in some of its antennas, the closest thing to massive MIMO on a U.S. carrier network.

Also, most current phones could use the system with Sprint’s 2.5GHz LTE network because it has a way of organizing frequencies that most U.S. carriers don’t use. There won’t be a standard for achieving the same thing with more typical phones and networks until next year, Sprint says.

But Sprint isn’t the only carrier that has these two advantages. So does China Mobile, and Nokia has been testing 64x64 massive MIMO with them, too, said Ashish Dayama, head of MulteFire and TD-LTE marketing at Nokia.

The highlight of what the company’s demonstrating with Sprint is that it’s commercial hardware, downsized through cycles of development into something that can go on a real-world cell tower, Nokia says.

5G will take massive MIMO even further, using much higher frequencies such as 28GHz. There’s a lot of spectrum up in those bands to deliver even more capacity, but only in relatively small areas, said John Saw, Sprint’s chief technology officer. At that point, the 2.5GHz network will offer better coverage and will probably serve as an anchor for the 5G network, he said.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Nokiamobile phones

Featured

Slideshows

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ

Partners are actively building out security practices and services to match, yet remain challenged by a lack of guidance in the market. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable - in association with Sophos - assessed the making of an MSSP, outlining the blueprint for growth and how partners can differentiate in New Zealand.

The making of an MSSP: a blueprint for growth in NZ
Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018

The leading players of the New Zealand channel came together to celebrate a year of achievement at the inaugural Reseller News Platinum Club lunch in Auckland. Following the Reseller News Innovation Awards, Platinum Club provides a platform to showcase the top performing partners and start-ups of the past 12 months, with more than ​​50 organisations in the spotlight.​​​

Reseller News Platinum Club celebrates leading partners in 2018
Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ

HP has honoured its leading partners in New Zealand during 2018, following 12 months of growth through the local channel. Unveiled during the fourth running of the ceremony in Auckland, the awards recognise and celebrate excellence, growth, consistency and engagement of standout Kiwi partners.

Meet the top performing HP partners in NZ
Show Comments