One of the biggest points of contention in the race to 5G is what spectrum is best suited to deploy the next-generation network -- above-6Ghz millimeter wave (mmW) bands or in the sub-6Ghz frequencies. Anite isn't taking a side, but it's giving operators the tools they need if they decide to aim high.
The test and measurement vendor began leading development for the first channel models for 5G -- lab tests to predict how wireless device will work in real-world conditions -- through the European Union-funded METIS (Mobile and wireless communications Enablers for the 2020 Information Society) task group in June 2014 and is now announcing its initial work is complete.
The Metis group has put forth what James Goodwin, director of product management at Anite plc , describes as a series of mathematical models for operators to evaluate spectrum and for handset manufacturers and chip makers to evaluate the performance of their prototype 5G devices. (See Anite Launches LTE Packet Core Test Tool and Anite Shifts Up a Gear With 4G/5G Virtual Drive Testing .)
The models were made for things like system performance evaluation, system optimization, radio interface simulation and prototyping, R&D testing and final product approval. METIS is presenting them via a a map-based model, a stochastic model and a hybrid model combining the other two based on end-user scenarios, test cases and requirements mapped to various propagation scenarios.
Anite is leading the charge of the channel modeling group at METIS, but it also includes vendors like Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and Nokia Networks , operators like NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), and a number of universities. (See SK Telecom, Ericsson Collaborate on 5G Research and Ericsson Explores New Way to 5G.)
Goodwin says they didn't set out to make a judgement on which spectrum -- above or sub-6GHz -- was best for 5G, but to show the industry how to use the millimeter wave spectrum should they choose to. That spectrum has not been researched as much as the sub-6Ghz bands where LTE-Advanced runs, Goodwin says, so more work was needed. (See Spectrum Muddle at the 5G Huddle and 60GHz: A Frequency to Watch.)
"One thing there is a growing consensus around is that there will be a need for some degree of new spectrum to be used to free up significant amounts of spectrum on a global basis," Goodwin says. "That is unlikely to be at currently used mobile spectrum, but the behavior of the [high-band] spectrum is currently very poorly understood."
Goodwin concedes that it's not certain operators will need new spectrum above 6Ghz for 5G, but he sees a place for it with very high-speed small cell deployments. Small cells will be a crucial part of 5G, and, while macro cells do well in the low bands, small cells are ideal for high bands where increased capacity is needed. (See 5G: What Is It & Why Does It Matter? and Heavy Reading Q&A: Getting to the Heart of 5G .)
"It's always a fine line we have to tread when you're an enabler in the industry to provide tools for other people rather than to promote one frequency over another," he says. "The purpose wasn't to say 'we recommend this frequency,' but to provide a basis for people to evaluate the frequencies. There will be lots of consideration people will take into account to determine commercial viability."
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading