Huawei and Intel partner on 5G NR interoperability trials

Huawei's 5G base station prototype will be used alongside Intel's new 5G Mobile Trial Platform to test 5G NR interoperability across the sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum bands.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese networking giant Huawei has announced a new collaboration with Intel on 5G New Radio (5G NR) for interoperability development testing based on 3GPP standards.

For the interoperability trials, the companies will use Huawei's 5G base station prototype and Intel's third-generation 5G Mobile Trial Platform to test 5G NR across the sub-6GHz spectrum band -- including the C-band between 4GHz and 8GHz -- and the higher-range millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum bands.

"The companies will conduct testing in real mobile, over-the-air environments directly connecting Huawei's infrastructure and Intel's terminal platform," Huawei said on Friday.

"As one of the first globally converged 5G spectrum, C-Band will provide basic coverage and bandwidth for 5G. Further, C-Band will serve as one of the world's first commercialised 5G frequency bands.

"The verification of these features that Huawei and Intel have launched will point out the future direction for the industry."

President of Huawei's 5G Product Line Yang Chaobin said the networking company has already tested C-Band, mmWave, and downlink-and-uplink decoupling 5G technologies in Beijing.

He added that the new 5G NR trials with Intel will now "drive the development of 5G terminals" towards commercialisation within the next couple of years.

According to Huawei, the new collaboration demonstrates the closeness with which 5G is coming to commercial deployment, and is a step in unifying carriers and manufacturers across chips, terminals, network infrastructure, and test equipment for a global 5G environment.

"Intel has been actively collaborating with leading players in the Chinese 5G industry to accelerate 5G R&D tests and commercialisation with Intel's end-to-end 5G technology advantages," Intel Communication and Devices Group VP Asha Keddy said.

"Based on the latest 5G NR technologies, this joint interoperability test with Huawei will further drive unified 5G standards and the industrial ecosystem in China and across the globe."

Huawei has also previously worked with Intel [PDF] on delivering cloud and network function virtualisation (NFV) solutions to enable telcos to upgrade while laying the foundations for 5G.

Intel had earlier this month announced its new 5G mobile trial platform, which it said will be developed alongside 3GPP standards and allow for collaboration from other infrastructure and carrier partners beyond the Huawei trial.

Rob Topol, general manager of 5G Business and Technology for Intel globally, told ZDNet on Friday that the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform will be ready by the end of the year, once the next milestone 3GPP vote takes place.

Once ready, the platform will allow for device innovation by supporting initial 5G NR specifications in live tests with partners. It is powered by Intel's field-programmable gate array (FGPA) circuits and Core i7 processors.

At launch, the 5G platform will support 3GPP NR early interoperability; the 600-900MHz, 3.3-4.2GHz, 4.4-4.9GHz, 5.1-5.9GHz, 28GHz, and 39GHz spectrum bands; and a mobile interoperability solution for end-to-end 5G field testing.

"The main advantage of this is the flexibility of this platform; it not only uses high speeds up to 10Gbps, but we also can use this platform to develop algorithms to figure out what works, what doesn't work for use cases like fixed-wireless or automotive [and] industrial," Keddy told media earlier in September.

Intel announced its first 5G trial platform in February last year, supporting sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum, with a second-generation platform integrating 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (4x4 MIMO) then launched a year ago.

Keddy said that Intel has been "pleasantly surprised" with mmWave performance during its 5G trials, saying it works better than expected in both mobility and fixed-wireless areas.

Intel also announced its 5G modem at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, with a single chip that supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrum bands, incorporating Massive MIMO, beam-forming technology, and advanced channel coding.

Intel is also working with US carriers AT&T and Verizon on 5G trials: AT&T is using Intel's 5G mobile trial platform in its Indiana, Texas, and Michigan trials, while Verizon relies on Intel for its 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the nation.

Intel and Verizon additionally trialled 5G during the Indianapolis 500 motor race in May, using technologies such as beam forming and beam tracking to attain speeds in excess of 6Gbps.

The networking giant is also planning to use the Olympic Games to showcase its 5G platforms.

Huawei is likewise working with carriers worldwide on 5G networking tests, in January attaining speeds of around 35Gbps with Singaporean telcos StarHub and M1.

The StarHub trial was conducted using 2GHz at the e-band -- which sits between the 60GHz and 90GHz frequencies -- using three layers of e-band, as well as 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

The M1 lab trial was conducted at M1's main operating centre in Jurong, and made use of mmWave spectrum in the 73GHz e-band as well as 4x4 MIMO; two-component carrier (2CC) uplink carrier aggregation; 3CC tri-band downlink carrier aggregation; and Higher Order Modulation 256 QAM.

Huawei, which plans to help implement 5G networks by 2020, similarly achieved speeds of 35Gbps during a 5G trial with Australian telecommunications provider Optus in November, which was likewise conducted over the 73GHz mmWave spectrum band using the Polar Code coding mechanism.

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