Telstra working on 1Gbps commercial network speeds with Ericsson, Qualcomm

A test by Ericsson, Telstra, and Qualcomm has seen the companies use 4x4 MIMO combined with 256 QAM in an effort to attain speeds of 1Gbps across the commercial network.

Ericsson has announced a demonstration in partnership with Telstra and Qualcomm of 4x4 spatial multiplexing multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) combined with 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), which it claims has established the foundation for commercial network download speeds of up to 1Gbps.

During the experiment, the companies combined 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 LTE modem, Ericsson Networks Software 16B for LTE, and Telstra's commercial network.

The combination currently achieves peak downlink data speeds of up to 380Mbps, but the technology is expected to reach download speeds of 1Gbps in the future.

According to Ericsson, 4x4 MIMO results in doubling peak rates without the need for additional spectrum, while 256 QAM boosts this peak rate even further.

"Activating new advanced network and operational capabilities such as 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM provides operators with a more solid and secure network performance, enabling digitalisation opportunities to everyone, everywhere," said Thomas Norén, VP and head of Radio Product Management at Ericsson.

The companies noted that 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM should be supported on smartphones from 2016.

"We are constantly looking to enhance our customers' user experience, and 4x4 MIMO will be an important addition to our mobile network speeds and capacity," said Mike Wright, Telstra group managing director of Networks.

"This next step in device evolution, achieved by Ericsson and Qualcomm, shows 4x4 MIMO with 256 QAM in combination. This brings us even closer to offering 1Gbps capabilities to our customers."

Telstra and Ericsson also announced in November that they had attained speeds of 1Gbps during live commercial 4G mobile trials by aggregating five spectrum bands in a world first.

During the test, 100MHz of spectrum was aggregated across the 700MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2600MHz (2x 20MHz) bands, and delivered to a Cobham Aeroflex TM500 mobile device.

"Our end-to-end tests have been achieving amazing download speeds of over 950Mbps using a specialised speed test application," Wright said in a blog post.

"Just as importantly, we have also been able to hit speeds of over 843Mbps end to end over the internet to the speedtest.net site."

According to Ericsson, five-carrier aggregation provides the foundation for 5G, which will require the aggregation of higher-frequency bands. The high speeds also allow for better and more reliable coverage with mobile devices.

Last month, Alcatel-Lucent's research arm, Bell Labs, similarly announced that ongoing testing of its 6x6 MIMO system could see the company attain speeds of 1 petabit per second in time for the arrival of 5G and the Internet of Things.

In what the company called a "major breakthrough", a trial of its prototype real-time space-division multiplexed optical MIMO transmission technology saw Bell Labs successfully remove for the first time crosstalk from multiple signals on the fibre supporting the six parallel optical signal paths using real-time processing.

"This experiment represents a major breakthrough in the development of future optical transport," Marcus Weldon, CTO of Alcatel-Lucent and president of Bell Labs, said.

"We are at the crossroads of a huge change in communications networks, with the advent of 5G wireless and cloud networking under way. Operators and enterprises alike will see their networks challenged by massive increases in traffic. At Bell Labs, we are continuously innovating to shape the future of communications networks to meet those demands."

The successful experiment used six transmitters and six receivers alongside real-time digital signal processing over coupled fibre stretching 60km in Bell Labs' global headquarters in New Jersey.

The arrival of 5G in 2020 will bring with it a need for petabit-per-second speeds, the company said, with demand to outstrip current capacity. Bell Labs' MIMO technology could see today's 10Tbps to 20Tbps increase to 1 petabit per second -- the equivalent of 1,000Tbps.