Ericsson and Nokia are getting new products ready for next year that officials with both companies say will push telecommunications companies closer to creating 5G wireless networks.
In fact, Ericsson executives said last week that the addition of a 5G NR radio for massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) support combined with other 5G technologies the company has released will give Ericsson all the components needed for carriers to build 5G networks in 2017. That would put it three years ahead of the expected completion date of international standards for the wireless technology.
The company also is rolling out technologies designed to enhance the performance and efficiency of current networks, with concepts that officials said will become 5G.
“Ericsson has driven innovation in every generation of mobile technology and now we are set to over-deliver on an aggressive promise,” Arun Bansal, head of business unit network products at Ericsson, said in a statement. “We are introducing the new hardware that 5G plug-ins, announced in June, will run on, so that the first operators can start to deploy 5G infrastructure.”
For its part, Nokia officials unveiled not only 4.5G Pro, which they said will boost capacity and speed in operators’ networks as they move their infrastructures to 5G, but also plans for 4.9G as a further incremental step toward the next-generation technology.
Trends like the internet of things (IoT), cloud computing, data analytics, virtual and augmented reality, driverless cars, video and artificial intelligence are driving the need for greater mobile network speed and performance. AT&T officials have said data traffic on the provider’s wireless network grew by more than 150,000 percent between 2007 and 2015, driven largely by video.
5G promises to deliver network enhancements boasting speeds 10 to 100 times faster than the average 4G LTE connections of today and the capacity to accommodate the tens of billions of devices that will make up the IoT.
The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partner Project), which also had set the 4G LTE standard, in March announced a tentative timeline for 5G that doesn’t show a standard being approved until 2020. However, carriers and networking technology vendors already are moving ahead with 5G projects: AT&T and Verizon are among the service providers preparing field trials for this year, while Huawei Technologies, Intel and other tech vendors are making significant investments.
Ericsson officials said the company will be ready to deliver the components to allow carriers to build 5G networks next year. The final piece needed was the 5G NR radio. The AIR 6468 is designed to support both 5G technologies and advanced 4G LTE technologies, which will enable telcos to bring in 5G capabilities while continuing to run 4G operations.
In June, Ericsson introduced 5G plug-ins. With those—along with the 5G NR radio and Radio System Baseband 5216, which runs Ericsson’s Radio Test Bed—Ericsson officials said they now have the components needed for 5G networks. The first deployments of the radio are expected to happen in 2017.
Ericsson, Nokia Look to Ease 5G Adoption
Other gear designed for 5G concepts include three new radios that support gigabit speeds over LTE, the Radio 2205 to address unlicensed spectrum options and small cells, two new baseband units for greater density, Uplink Spectrum Analyzer for external interference identification, instant power sharing and Baseband C608 that will help with the adoption of Cloud RAN in 5G networks.
Ericsson in July fired CEO Hans Vestberg after flagging financial numbers, as telco spending on 3G and 4G equipment continues to slow and competition with such vendors as Huawei and Nokia—which closed its $16.6 billion acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent earlier this year—heats up.
Nokia officials said the company’s existing 4.5G offerings—which already are being used by 90 customers worldwide—and the upcoming 4.5G Pro and 4.9G technologies will help carriers more easily adopt 5G in the coming years.
“While the ever-connected world of people and IoT drives huge data demands, the speeds enabled by 5G will be a colossal step in operators’ network evolution,” Samih Elhage, president of mobile networks at Nokia, said in a statement. “However, with our 4.5G, 4.5G Pro and 4.9G technologies, we will provide a smooth evolution path that will allow them to increase capacity and improve the user experience while creating new revenue opportunities.”
The 4.5G Pro technologies will be powered by Nokia’s AirScale radio portfolio and will provide 10 times the speeds of 4G networks, enabling service providers to take advantage of diverse paired (FDD) and unpaired (TDD) licensed spectrum and unlicensed spectrum, officials said. They will arrive in 2017, aimed at helping to address the proliferation of connected devices and preparing networks for 5G.
Meanwhile, 4.9G will further increase speed and capacity of networks while reducing latency to complement 5G radio coverage, officials said. Features in 4.9G will boost speeds to several gigabits per second, enable additional licensed and unlicensed spectrum, allow more carriers to be aggregated and enable highly directional antennas to be used.