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Nokia's new ReefShark chipset aims to deliver big 5G performance boost

Nokia has developed a new chipset that can halve the size of 5G antennas and boost capacity.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

ReefShark chipsets will begin shipping in the third quarter as plug-in units for Nokia's AirScale baseband module.

Image: Nokia

Mobile network vendor Nokia has announced a new line of chipsets to help operators upgrade their networks to support 5G.

Nokia says its new 5G ReefShark chipset triples capacity to 84Gbps, up from current chipsets' top speed of 28Gbps.

ReefShark chipsets will begin shipping in the third quarter as plug-in units for Nokia's AirScale baseband module. AirScale can be upgraded to 5G with a software update.

By boosting the baseband unit's throughput using ReefShark, multiple AirScale modules can support throughputs of up to six terabits per second.

Nokia says 30 operators are already using ReefShark and further deployments will occur during the third quarter.

The chipset is based on 3GPP-based 5G New Radio (5G NR) standards. 3GPP ratified the first specification for 5G NR in December, clearing the path for vendors to build compliant equipment.

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The ReefShark chipset includes support for massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (mMIMO) antennas, radio and baseband. It halves the size of mMIMO antenna and uses 85 percent less energy, according to Nokia.

Reuters reports that the new Nokia technology will allow antennas to be reduced from current heights of between 1m and 2.6m to about 45cm (3.3ft and 8.5ft to 1.5ft), offering more choices for deploying them.

The chipsets are also enabled for automated beamforming, which will give networks more options to boost cell range and provide more capacity where it's needed.

Nokia's announcement comes as carriers ramp up 5G plans. AT&T plans to be one of the first US carriers to roll-out 5G, aiming to reach 12 markets by the end of 2018.

The Trump administration is reportedly being encouraged to build a secure, centralized, and nationalized 5G network to support its military capabilities and build resilience to threats from China.

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