Mobile World Congress takes place this week, so it's time again for carrier and vendors to serve up bold claims about what 5G cellular will do for users -- this time, with a dash of realism. "5G is not ready yet," T-Mobile USA's CTO Neville Ray said Monday morning. "It's maturing quickly, but it's not real today, and I can't go and deploy a 5G radio to serve my customers with and give them a handset." Like most other carriers, T-Mobile is testing pre-standard 5G technology, and Ray is enthusiastic about the next generation in the long term. But he reminded the audience that some parts of 5G, like using ultra-high frequencies to reach mobile devices, still face big technical challenges and 4G will still be around for years after the first big 5G rollouts happen around 2020.
NEC Corporation has announced developing radio units for 5G base stations, with the small, low-power units "ideal for 5G conditions". Its products will fulfil the 5G requirements for a large number of small-coverage base station devices, the company said, amid the expected increase in traffic across the new mobile networks. "NEC aims to drive the global expansion of 5G by contributing to ecosystems in radio access networks via interoperability testing between multiple vendors' equipment that is compliant with O-RAN fronthaul specifications," SVP of NEC Corporation Nozomu Watanabe explained. The units work across the 3.7GHz, 4.5GHz, and 28GHz spectrum bands, therefore covering both sub-6GHz and millimetre-wave (mmWave) 5G deployments. NEC is demonstrating its base station radio units during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona, after last month partnering with Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo to use 5G to live stream 8K footage into a train.
NTT DoCoMo has announced attaining 5G speeds of 27Gbps during outdoor trials with Mitsubishi Electric in Kamakura, in Japan's Kanagawa Prefecture. According to the Japanese carrier, this was the world's first 5G transmission to exceed a peak speed of 20Gbps using one terminal, with a communication distance of 10 metres attaining the 27Gbps speed, and a speed of 25Gbps over 100 metres. NTT DoCoMo used the 28GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) frequency band, massive-element antenna systems, and 16-beam spatial multiplexing technology with 500MHz bandwidth, which they said could be used to transmit high-speed connectivity to vehicles with multiple passengers such as trains and buses. "Base-station antennas installed on the wall of a building directed beams to mobile-terminal antennas installed on the rooftop of a vehicle," the companies said, explaining that massive-element antenna systems technology allow for several data streams to be transmitted in parallel. "The mobile terminal moved along two different streets. The distance of one mobile terminal was 10m from the base station and the distance for the other was 100m."
NTT DoCoMo has announced completing trials of 5G integrated access backhaul (IAB) technology with Chinese networking giant Huawei, which it said increases the wireless coverage of millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum. According to the Japanese carrier, mmWave signals are usually affected by interference from obstacles. IAB technology attains advanced beamforming by using a "compact focal lens antenna made with metamaterials" that concentrates the long-distance direction of radio waves. This reduces interference and allows for simultaneous data transmissions over the same frequency, the telco said. The field trial used the 39GHz band and was undertaken in Yokohama CBD Minato Mirai 21 in Japan, testing wireless backhaul between an IAB donor 5G base station and an IAB or 5G relay node, which was able to connect wirelessly with mobile user equipment.