Spanish telecom operator Telefonica has teamed with Huawei to develop what the two companies claim is the world’s first proof-of-concept (PoC) 5G radio access network (RAN) that features a no-cell architecture.
The companies tested the technology in their joint 5G innovation lab and found that compared to LTE, the 5G connections per cell increased 233 percent while the overhead signaling decreased 78 percent. In addition, latency decreased 95 percent compared to LTE.
Called User Centric No Cell (UCNC), the 5G RAN technology uses a hyper-cell network architecture that enables the coordination of many base station nodes and eliminates handovers between the cells, thereby reducing interference.
UCNC uses a new radio access framework that evolves from the classic cell-centric access protocol to a user-centric protocol with hyper-cell abstraction. This helps reduce signaling and improve latency.
The technology also uses a new protocol called ECO State that sends short packets directly from device-to-device without the need for over-the-air signaling, allowing users to be always connected to the network.
Now that the first PoC is complete, Telefonica and Huawei plan to continue with their testing and work on enhancing the cell edge spectral efficiency so that the service doesn’t degrade at the cell edges.
The two companies also said they have successfully demonstrated millimeter (mmWave) multi-user multiple-in and multiple-out (MIMO) technology based upon the 5G New Radio (NR) and massive MIMO technology. In this demonstration the companies achieved 70 Gb/s throughput and more than 35 Gb/s data rates to each user.
While many other operators around the globe have teamed with vendors on 5G trials, most of those tests have focused on using mmWave spectrum and MIMO technology to achieve high throughput and low latency. Telefonica’s PoC test with Huawei is one of the first reported tests of a 5G RAN using a no-cell architecture.