Intel and Ericsson demo 5G interoperability across 3.5GHz

Ericsson and Intel will be demonstrating 5G multi-vendor interoperability over the air during trials in Beijing this week, utilising the 3.5GHz spectrum band that has been flagged for 5G use in China.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Ericsson and Intel have announced completing the first ever 5G multi-vendor end-to-end interoperability development test across the 3.5GHz spectrum band in China, which the nation's three major carriers plan to use for their 5G deployments.

The trials, continuing this week in Beijing, are being led by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) as part of the first over-the-air interface of interoperability verification.

The companies are utilising Ericsson's 5G 3.5GHz radio testbed prototype -- which makes use of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), multi-user MIMO, and beam forming -- and Intel's 5G test platform for the trials.

"We recognise the importance and innovation of the Chinese market, and by working closely with ecosystem partners such as Intel, we are helping to pave the way for a successful rollout of 5G in the future," Ericsson's head of Market Area North East Asia Chris Houghton said.

Ericsson has also previously worked with Intel [PDF] on joint 5G, cloud, and Internet of Things (IoT) trials with mobile operators across the globe, with the two companies collaborating on 5G trials for United States carriers AT&T and Verizon.

AT&T is using Ericsson's 28GHz radios, virtualised RAN (vRAN), and full 5G virtualised core and Intel's 5G mobile trial platform in its Indiana, Texas, and Michigan trials; while Verizon relies on Ericsson and Intel for its 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the nation.

Intel, Ericsson, 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.

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

For those interoperability trials, the companies will again use Intel's third-generation 5G Mobile Trial Platform, alongside Huawei's 5G base station prototype, 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."

Huawei said such collaborations demonstrate the closeness with which 5G is coming to commercial deployment, and are 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 last week.

"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."

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 and Ericsson Chinese trials.

Rob Topol, general manager of 5G Business and Technology for Intel globally, told ZDNet that the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform will be ready for widespread carrier testing 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.

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

It 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.

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

Ericsson similarly added a frequency-division duplex (FDD) radio with support for 5G and Massive MIMO to its 5G platform earlier this month, saying it will provide a "bridge" between 4G and 5G by boosting capacity with current mobile spectrum.

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