Nokia, through a recently conducted lab test, has achieved a milestone in the delivery of enhanced 5G capacity via a software upgrade on its commercial AirScale solution. The lab test delivered approximately 3 Gbps total downlink cell throughout and was performed using Sprint 5G with a software upgrade of E-UTRAN New Radio - Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) and Multi-User-Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO).
According to Nokia, when the service is made commercially available, it will allow operators to vastly increase their network capacity via a software update without having to invest in additional spectrum.
The test, which utilized Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum as well as commercial devices such as hotspots, leveraged Massive MIMO to achieve 16 layers of MU-MIMO to deliver up to four times the total downlink cell throughput. Typically MIMO consists of 2 layers of network capacity. Massive MIMO, which was invented by Nokia Bell Labs, considerably multiplies the capacity of a wireless connection without requiring additional spectrum.
Nokia’s AirScale Dual Mode Massive MIMO solution for 5G and LTE was used to deliver multi-gigabit cell downlink throughput. The service uses existing hardware but requires an upgrade to the software in the base station which can be performed remotely. This means that operators will be able to offer enhanced services without any requirement for site visits to change or transport hardware.
EN-DC (E-UTRAN New Radio - Dual Connectivity) allows devices to add throughput to LTE and 5G networks – resulting in higher user throughput. Typically, operators use two radios for LTE and 5G, however, for this test Nokia used a single AirScale unit. Nokia and Sprint have launched 5G service in areas of four cities in the U.S, which are New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Phoenix.