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5G

Sprint's Big Game: 5G at 2.5GHz

PARKING LOT K, Lincoln Financial Field, Pa. -- Sprint Tuesday demonstrated a high-frequency 5G test rig from Ericsson at the Copa America Centenario 2016 football, er, soccer tournament, but the operator's CTO says that it will utilize its 2.5GHz spectrum for the initial push into 5G.

Light Reading met with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s CTO John Saw and Glenn Laxdal, head of technology and strategy for Ericsson North America, at what was essentially a nerd tailgate party in a parking lot outside the stadium before the game began.

"This is one of the first 5G demonstrations at a large outdoor public event," Saw said. "There's no safety net."

The demo was running a 15GHz pre-standard 5G basestation mounted high on a truck nearby, feeding a large test terminal, which might moonlight as a riding mower on the weekend. The data rates shown usually ran from 3 Gbit/s to close to 4 Gbit/s. (Ericsson's Laxdal said that the system can achieve up to 5.5 Gbit/s in optimal conditions, but, hey, a test in the open air is usually a good proof-of-concept, right?)

Ericsson's 15GHz Terminal

The test used two 4-by-4 multiple input multiple output (MIMO) antennas, with "single beam" MIMO. This test was using a lot of spectrum, a 400MHz swathe of bandwidth, in fact. Typical 4G deployments might use a tenth of that today with channel bonding (carrier aggregation), or -- often -- much less.

The Test Basestation

The test was held over a closed-loop system with fiber delivering a live video stream to the basestation.

What's the frequency, John?
The two stadium tests that Sprint has done so far utilized a 73GHz system from Nokia Networks and a 15GHz rig from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC). The Sprint CTO says, however, that the operator's first 5G efforts will use its existing 2.5GHz spectrum. Sprint says it holds 160MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum in the top 100 US markets. (See Sprint Kicks Off 5G Tests in Levi's Stadium.)

"We're going to start with 2.5 because we can do a lot with 2.5," Saw says. (See Sprint CEO: Our Spectrum Is for 5G.)

Ericsson is now working to create a "massive MIMO" prototype for Sprint. This is aiming to combine 16-by-16 antenna arrays to create an overall 64-by-64 array. Ericsson's Laxdal hopes to have that in the labs this year and to tweak it in the field in 2017, with early applications -- think fixed wireless -- in 2018.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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TV Monitor 6/21/2016 | 5:19:24 PM
Re: The long road IanBrown

"I doubt the assemble local would pass the requirement though."

It should be acceptable to Feds as long as

1. The Shell company is 100% US owned.
2. The Shell company controls the software with a periodic NSA audit and an NSA access to source code.

What the Feds need is an assurance that the people who install software on basestations at the factory are trustworthy Americans, and the checksum matches the version submitted to the NSA for review.
lanbrown 6/21/2016 | 4:32:04 PM
Re: The long road I doubt the assemble local would pass the requirement though.

Samsung has been very slow in terms of their own modems though.

 

They could just sell a Chinese variant which has been done in the past.....roaming outside of China though, very problematic.  So leave a 5G coverage area and you might be back to 2G speeds only...not great for data services.  Phones sold in China, they really don't care too much about supporting much outside of their home country.  Many vendors sell two variants, a Chinese version and then a variant for the rest of the world.  The bands supported vary greatly between the two.

 

He might have had the golden touch, but with Sprint you just have a golden turd rather than a turd...it is still a turd though.
TV Monitor 6/21/2016 | 3:55:20 PM
Re: The long road Ianbrown

"Will anyone but Huawei make 5G gear at 2.5GHz?"

Nokia wants to sell Chinese 2.5 Ghz 5G base stations in China. Ericsson not so much.

Chinese 5G is an enhancement of LTE, so it is relatively easy for LTE basestation vendors to support. It is just a wider, more fine-tuned version of TD-LTE.

"Can Sprint use Huawei gear at all and maintain any government contracts?"

No. Sprint has two choices here.

1. Buy from Nokia at a premium price(And defeat the purpose of buying Chinese equipment)
2. Establish a shell American company that assembles Huawei supplied kits into finished base stations in the US.

"Will Qualcomm support it?"

Yes.

"Will Intel support it?"

I don't know. Probably.

"Will Samsung support it?"

Yes.

"If neither Intel, Samsung nor Qualcomm support it, then phone selection will be very limited"

Phone selection won't be a problem, since every major vendors will support Chinese 5G(Or they don't get to sell in China)

Samsung 5G likely to be deployed in the US 28 Ghz band would be a problem, because this standard uses an exotic antenna that is beyond the reach of non-Korean vendors, so your initial choices may be limited to Samsung, LG, and Pantech and no Chinese phones. Apple will not be able to support this standard without an extensive help from Korean suppliers.

"What about roaming?  Using a Chinese chipset for the modem will allow the 2.5GHz 5G to work, but what about everything else?"

You fall back to LTE or LTE-A for roaming. Sprint would be the obvious roaming choice for Chinese market phones.

"Sprint always seems to take a different road which is usually a toll road but it doesn't get you to the destination any faster, it just takes longer and costs more to get there."

Sprint is under the control of the man who got rich doing things different and forbidden, and he thinks he could replicate his magic touch on Sprint.
lanbrown 6/21/2016 | 2:17:07 PM
The long road While Sprint will have the advantage of using what the Chinese will, there are still many issues.

Will anyone but Huawei make 5G gear at 2.5GHz?

Can Sprint use Huawei gear at all and maintain any government contracts?

Will Qualcomm support it?

Will Intel support it?

Will Samsung support it?

If neither Intel, Samsung nor Qualcomm support it, then phone selection will be very limited

What about roaming?  Using a Chinese chipset for the modem will allow the 2.5GHz 5G to work, but what about everything else?

Sprint always seems to take a different road which is usually a toll road but it doesn't get you to the destination any faster, it just takes longer and costs more to get there.
TV Monitor 6/16/2016 | 11:31:40 AM
Re: MmWave & Sprint DanJones

Sprint : 2.5 Ghz yes, mmwave maybe, years later

Verizon : 28 Ghz yes, 2.5 Ghz no.
DanJones 6/15/2016 | 11:36:50 PM
Re: MmWave & Sprint Which is what this story already says, 2.5GHz first, mmWave later!
TV Monitor 6/15/2016 | 5:40:57 PM
Re: MmWave & Sprint DanJones

"demo yesterday in a single 400MHz channel! mmWave is the only way to get access to that kind of spectrum."

A 160 Mhz band is good for 3~4 Gbits/s download with aggressive MIMO. We are taking 8x8 or even 16x16 MIMO here.

Granted it won't get Sprint 10+ Gbits/s download speed that 28 Ghz Korean 5G would deliver, but most users would care more about data charge rate(GB per dollar) than throughput. Samsung and LG phones compatible with Korean 5G network would approach $1000 at launch, whereas Chinese 5G network Sprint's deploying has tons of inexpensive phones from Chinese vendors, Apple, and even Samsung.

So deploying Chinese 5G across Sprint's 2.5 Ghz spectrum will help Sprint to gain customer in the short term, even if it runs out of gas eventually and Sprint is forced to deploy mmwave networks at a later time, but it will buy them time to defer that expensive investment on mmwave network.
DanJones 6/15/2016 | 4:32:57 PM
Re: MmWave & Sprint Much as I appreciate the way you always have such a definite answer about a topic that is 4 years in the future at best, I can't agree here.

1. Sprint has 160MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum across the U.S. It was running that demo yesterday in a single 400MHz channel! mmWave is the only way to get access to that kind of spectrum.

2. Saw stressed that Sprint is very used to using microwave links already. (80Ghz rooftop to rooftop links in Manhattan for instance.) Even if they don't use it for the RAN they'll need more spectrum for backhaul.

 

 
TV Monitor 6/15/2016 | 12:29:05 PM
Re: MmWave & Sprint Dan Jones

Softbank has no interest in mmwave 5G, and doesn't plan to deploy one in Japan. So I doubt Masayoshi Son would approve any investment in mmwave 5G in the US.

And indeed, this makes sense in markets where plenty of bandwidth is available below 6 Ghz like in China and Japan, but it doesn't make sense in the US for anyone but Sprint.
DanJones 6/15/2016 | 12:18:26 PM
Re: MmWave & Sprint Yeah, this was a test, as I wrote Saw is starting with massive MIMO at 2.5GHz.
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