Ericsson has created some software plug-ins for networks to evolve toward 5G, perhaps in an effort to generate some buzz around 5G while it goes through the sluggish process of spectrum deals and standards work.
The software-driven plug-ins aim to bring 5G-like capabilities to existing networks with commercial availability targeted for 2017.
Ericsson touts the plug-ins as a way to serve 5G use cases from mobile HD video, to driverless buses, to feedback-enabled drones. Ericsson’s marketing machine has been touting the use-cases angle of 5G. At Mobile World Congress in February, Ericsson CTO Ulf Ewaldsson, talked about network slicing as a way to use the same network infrastructure but create slices for particular industry verticals and their specific use cases.
5G Software Plug-Ins
Ericsson 5G software plug-ins are supported by the Ericsson radio system and are specifically focused on capabilities that operators can use within current networks to facilitate their evolution to 5G. They include:
- The new RAN virtualization plug-in enables virtual network functions (VNFs) to be centralized on a common platform, supporting both 4G and 5G.
- The intelligent connectivity plug-in can be used where 5G and 4G coverage areas overlap, permitting the network to anchor and intelligently route data based on application requirements and network resource availability.
- The latency reduction plug-in shortens access procedures and modifies the frame structure to enable instant network access and more frequent transmissions. This in turn reduces time-to-content while enabling real-time communications for 5G applications such as smart vehicles.
- The massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) plug-in improves both the user experience and the capacity and coverage of the network.
- The multi-user MIMO plug-in transmits data to multiple user devices using the same time and frequency resources, also providing a better user experience, enhancing network capacity and coverage, and reducing interference.
Ericsson 5G plug-ins will be available for operator trials starting in 2016.