5G standards battle continues, T-Mobile 4×4 MIMO shows speed boost – Carrier Wrap Ep. 57

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    3GPP work on 5G standards continues to make progress as milestones come into view, while T-Mobile 4×4 MIMO deployment posted strong results.

    On this week’s Carrier Wrap we speak with Michael Thelander, founder and president of Signals Research Group to get an update on the “5G” standards process as well as touch on the research firm’s recent network testing of T-Mobile US’ 4×4 multiple-input/multiple-output antenna deployment.
    Thelander noted that during the most recent Third Generation Partnership Project Plenary meeting in Vienna, Austria, efforts to accelerate the 5G standards process hit a snag as the topic was put on hold. Attempts have been made to have a version of 5G standards available by March 2018, which would include a non-stand-alone version of the technology requiring the presence of LTE for deployment. This version, which is referred to as “Option 3,” would slide in ahead of the general Release 15 standard that is still scheduled for June 2018.
    Thelander in a recent report noted proponents of the accelerated schedule “suggested that 3GPP essentially develops two sets of technical specifications – one set of TS documents for the functionality in the proposed early release and one set of TS documents at the full completion of Release 15.” The analyst and research firm indicated 3GPP did not agree to the change, though it could be revisited at the next 3GPP meeting scheduled for March 2017.
    At a previous 3GPP meeting in New Orleans, a disagreement cropped up between an AT&T-led group looking to get some form of 5G standards on the books by the end of 2017, which is well ahead of 3GPP’s initial timeline of mid-2018, which was countered by a group that included Verizon Communications in wanting to keep the schedule as is. The AT&T group explained it needed more time for testing some of the standards to be ready for mid-2018 deployments.
    Thelander also provided some color on SRG’s recent tests of 4×4 MIMO testing using T-Mobile US’ network, which showed a 55% speed boost on a live network using commercial Samsung devices.
    The testing was conducted by SRG using T-Mobile US’ network and a pair of Samsung Galaxy S7 devices, one enabled for 4×4 MIMO, the other not. The tests, which used Accuver Americas XCAL-M drive test solution and cooperation from T-Mobile US, found median data rates of 22.8 megabits per second on the device not using the enhanced antenna protocol versus 35.3 Mbps for the device so enabled.
    SRG noted the tests were conducted with each device locked to using only T-Mobile US’ AWS-1 spectrum channel in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band, with higher data rates expected if the devices were able to tap into additional spectrum support the carrier has behind its LTE network.
    Thanks for watching this week’s show, and make sure to check out our next Carrier Wrap when we speak with Dan Hays from PwC’s Strategy& division to discuss the impending conclusion of the FCC’s 600 MHz incentive auction and get an update on 5G deployment plans and challenges.
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