China Mobile hits 2Gbps speeds with commercial Massive MIMO

Deploying ZTE's pre-5G Massive MIMO technology across its Quanzhou mobile network has seen China Mobile attain a three-carrier peak rate of 2.1Gbps.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

China Mobile has announced completing a commercial deployment of 3D Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (3D-MIMO) in partnership with Chinese telecommunications technology solutions provider ZTE.

3D-MIMO, also known as Massive MIMO, has now been installed across China Mobile's Quanzhou network, connecting 16 commercial terminals with a single-carrier downlink peak rate of 700Mbps and a three-carrier peak rate of 2.1Gbps.

This followed ZTE and China Mobile -- which is currently virtualising its network with ARM and Enea -- attaining 1Gbps speeds across a three-carrier eight-stream downlink.

China Mobile in February flagged that it would be introducing 3D-MIMO, wherein 128 antenna elements are deployed in both vertical and horizontal dimensions, on its 4G networks from this year.

At the same time, Liu Guangyi, CTO of Wireless Development at China Mobile Research Institute, said the Chinese telco had planned 5G field trials in Guangzhou with ZTE; in Chengdu and Shanghai with Huawei; in Beijing with Ericsson and Datang Mobile; and in Hangzhou with Nokia.

"Since 2015, China Mobile and ZTE have been investing in innovation and verification of 3D-MIMO technology. In 2016, 3D-MIMO pre-commercial verification was conducted in 50 cities of 29 provinces. The new-generation 3D-MIMO product features commercial sophistication and is suitable for engineering installation in macrocell coverage and hotspot scenarios," ZTE said, adding that its 3D-MIMO product supports the 3.5GHz, 2.6GHz, and 2.3GHz spectrum bands.

ZTE in February also announced attaining 4G peak speeds of 2.6Gbps during a demonstration of Massive MIMO technology across frequency-division duplex (FDD) LTE, as well as connecting eight 4G terminals simultaneously.

The Chinese company unveiled its patented FDD-LTE Massive MIMO solution, powered by its MSC2.0 vector processing chip, at the end of last year after trialling it with China Unicom and China Telecom.

ZTE's "Pre-5G" suite is marketed as a solution for advanced 4G networks during the transition to 5G network technology, and has been deployed on over 60 networks across 40 countries, such as China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Austria, Thailand, and Indonesia.

It comprises Massive MIMO, which is commercially available on 4G networks, along with LTE-Advanced Pro technologies in 3GPP architecture including massive carrier aggregation, unified delivery network, 256 Quadrature Amplitude Moderation, licensed assisted access, LTE and WLAN Aggregation, and narrowband IoT (NB-IoT).

ZTE also announced plans to release 10Gbps-capable 5G millimetre-wave (mmWave) and sub-6GHz base stations that are compliant with 3GPP and 5G New Radio (NR) standards and identified spectrum bands back in February, also launching its modular 5G IT baseband unit (BBU) with Intel.

The Intel-ZTE BBU is compatible over 2G, 3G, 4G, and pre-5G networks thanks to the use of software-defined networking (SDN) and network-function virtualisation (NFV) technologies, and supports cloud-radio access networks, distributed-RAN, and 5G central and distributed units.

SoftBank is also partnering with ZTE, earlier this week announcing that it would use ZTE's Pre-5G network solutions in 5G field trial across Tokyo over sub-6GHz spectrum at 4.5GHz.

ZTE and SoftBank have been collaborating on Massive MIMO and 5G NR technologies; Massive MIMO has been commercially deployed on SoftBank's 4G network since last year.

Australian telecommunications provider Optus is working with Huawei on similar trials; in February, the two companies attained an aggregated cell throughput speed of 665Mbps shared across 16 devices using Massive MIMO technology.

Huawei's Massive MIMO active antenna unit (AAU) solution was used for the Optus trial, which has 16 beam-forming streams in a 128T128R configuration.

Through this solution, which has been deployed in over 60 countries across the globe over 120 networks, Huawei said it integrates radio functions from distributed base stations to antenna devices in an upward movement, and can support up to seven bands.

Huawei has used its Massive MIMO AAU technology during field testing with China Unicom, pre-commercial deployment with China Mobile, and commercial deployment with SoftBank.

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