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NTT DoCoMo partners with 6 vendors on 5G

NTT DoCoMo is looking towards the future, announcing this morning agreements with a half-dozen equipment vendors to conduct trials of so-called “5G” technologies. Those vendors include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Fujitsu, NEC, Nokia and Samsung.
NTT DoCoMo, which is Japan’s largest wireless operator, said the trials will focus on spectrum bands above 6 GHz, with an emphasis on providing high-density capacity in small areas. The carrier added that the trials will include “new radio technologies to support diverse types of applications including machine-to-machine services.” The trials are to begin at its Yokosuka research and development site this year, followed by outdoor trials beginning next year.
NTT DoCoMo said it expects commercial 5G networks to being rolling out by 2020, with network speeds greater than 10 gigabits per second and a 1,000-fold increase in capacity compared with current LTE deployments. While work on a 5G standard is not expected to even begin before the International Telecommunications Union until 2016, NTT DoCoMo said it plans to use results from the trials to provide input on potential 5G requirements. The carrier has a history of working on future-looking technology, having begun work on the “4G” standard back in 1998, with trials starting in 2003.
According to the ITU’s definition, there are not yet any commercial wireless systems that meet all of the requirements for the 4G standard, which are to provide network speeds of up to 1 Gbps in low-mobility situations and more than 100 megabits per second in high-mobility environments. LTE-Advanced and WiMAX-Advanced were singled out as having the potential to meet those requirements.
As part of the 5G trials, each vendor is set to focus on a specific technology.
–Alcatel-Lucent is looking at waveforms to support mobile broadband and M2M.
–Fujitsu is working on coordinate scheduling for “super-dense” base stations using remote radio heads.
–NEC experimenting on time-domain beamforming with antennas in the 5 GHz band.
–Ericsson working on “new radio interface concepts” and “massive” multiple input/multiple output in the 15 GHz band.
–Samsung looking at “super-wideband hybrid beamforming” and beam tracking in the 28 GHz band.
–Nokia working on super-wideband single carrier transmission and beamforming in the 70 GHz millimeter wave band.
Talk around 5G standards has increased in recent months as infrastructure vendors look to help carriers further bolster their networks to serve increasing mobile data demand from consumers. While 4G focused on providing wide-area mobile broadband connections using an all-IP core, wider spectrum channels spread across multiple bands and advances in antenna technology, 5G looks set to tackle denser deployments focused on higher-spectrum bands and a greater reliance on software.
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