Ericsson is aggressively moving ahead with 5G, announcing it will have a radio available in 2017 that supports massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) and multi-user MIMO. This is well ahead of the 2020 timeframe when 5G network specifications are expected to be finalized by the ITU.
The radios are intended to be coupled with the software-driven 5G plug-ins Ericsson announced earlier this year (also targeted at 2017) and its radio system baseband that is commercially available today.
Ericsson says the 5G radio will have steerable ports to accommodate beamforming as well as massive MIMO and eventually multi-user MIMO. These capabilities are expected to enhance network capacity and coverage and also reduce interference.
Ericsson’s 5G software plug-ins are focused on capabilities that operators can use within current networks to support the evolution to 5G. The plug-ins include a radio access network (RAN) plug-in that enables virtual network functions (VNFs) to be centralized on a common platform; an intelligent connectivity plug-in that can be used where 5G and 4G coverage areas overlap; and a latency reduction plug-in that shortens access procedures, and modifies the frame structure to enable instant network access and more frequent transmissions.
Ericsson is already working with about 26 operators globally on 5G trials including Verizon, which earlier this year released 5G specifications for vendors. Those specs were formulated with input from members of its 5G Technology Forum, which includes Ericsson.
Adam Koeppe, VP of technology planning at Verizon, says he believes Ericsson’s plans to deliver 5G gear by 2017 is a good thing. “This flexible infrastructure platform will give operators options,” Koeppe said in an interview with SDxCentral.
Koeppe added that vendors like Ericsson are in tune with operators around the globe, such as Verizon, that are moving aggressively to deploy some form of 5G prior to 2020.
The ITU sets the 5G standards that are based upon input from various agencies around the globe including the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). The ITU has coined the term IMT-2020 for the 5G standard, which indicates it has set a target date for 2020 for the standard.
But recently there has been some concern from operators and analysts about the aggressive 5G deployment schedules of certain operators. Analyst firm Strategy Analytics has said these different deployment schedules will likely cause market fragmentation. And that, in turn, may lead to different variants of 5G being deployed in devices and networks.