Verizon and Ericsson deploy Massive MIMO on Irvine LTE network

Verizon's 4G LTE network in Irvine now has Massive MIMO to increase speeds and capacity for customers, with the carrier working with Ericsson to upgrade its wireless network ahead of 5G.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Ericsson has announced deploying Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) technology across Verizon's wireless network in Irvine, California, increasing network capacity and speeds for customers.

For the Massive MIMO deployment, Ericsson provided 96 antenna elements that are driven by 16 transceiver radio units across a 20MHz chunk of advanced wireless services spectrum.

According to the two companies, the frequency-division duplex (FDD) deployment will "serve as a stepping stone to 5G", enabling beam-forming technology that directs antenna beams to where a customer is.

"Massive MIMO is a key technology enabler for 5G, but already today, 4G LTE service providers and end users can benefit from the superior capacity and network performance this technology enables," Ericsson head of Market Area North America Niklas Heuveldop explained.

"The current trial is an important step in the collaboration we have with Verizon to prepare their network for 5G."

Ericsson said it will also move to deploy Massive MIMO on further areas of Verizon's network "where there are capacity needs" in future.

Verizon last week announced that it will also be accelerating its 5G New Radio (NR) field trials with a goal of launching its next-generation network in 2019.

"We have a tremendous excitement around 5G, and today we made a great announcement to our commitment of driving the 5G ecosystem," Verizon SVP Atish Gude said.

"We made a commitment to really drive with you accelerated field trials and an accelerated commercial launch, and that just shows our commitment to 5G NR millimetre-wave."

The 5G NR over-the-air field trials will make use of 3GPP Release 15 specifications in the 28GHz and 39GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) bands, which Verizon said would support "full-scale commercial network deployment before the end of the decade".

"Verizon's investment in mmWave spectrum has given us the flexibility to pursue a first-of-its-kind fixed-wireless broadband customer trial, which has been invaluable in advancing our expertise in the deployment of mmWave technology," Technology Strategy and Planning SVP Ed Chan said.

"With the collaboration we're announcing today, we are taking the next logical step towards extending our leadership position in the advancement of 5G, part of the Verizon Intelligent Edge Network."

The trials will begin in 2018, and will also involve MIMO antenna technology, adaptive beam-forming and beam-tracking techniques, and Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 5G NR mobile modem chipset.

In June, Verizon told ZDNet that one of the "key" parts of 5G is interoperability, with the carrier working not only with Ericsson and Qualcomm but also with Cisco, Samsung, Intel, LG, and Nokia to roll out its pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the US.

"Interoperability ... is very key," Verizon senior solutions architect Chris Painter told ZDNet earlier this year.

"It's going to be a multi-vendor solution, so we need to have that interoperability."

Painter confirmed to ZDNet that Verizon's remaining 10 pre-commercial 5G trial networks -- in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; Washington DC; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; and Denver, Colorado -- will be deployed before the end of 2017.

Verizon last week announced third-quarter revenue of $31.7 billion, up slightly year on year from $30.94 billion, with the carrier adding 603,000 net retail post-paid customers during the three-month period, for a total post-paid customer base of 109.7 million and prepaid base of 5.6 million.

Of the post-paid customers added during the quarter, 238,000 were from wearables and 91,000 from tablets, while the remaining 274,000 were phone customers.

Verizon said its unlimited plans are boosting the use of its LTE network, with more than 50 percent of its available low- and mid-band spectrum being used for 4G services. It expects to announce further 5G trial results later this year.

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