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Airspan's 5G Magic Box Coming Soon

Dan Jones

UPDATE -- The chief strategy officer of Airspan Networks says the company will have a 5G-enabled version of its Magic Box wireless small cell by the end of the year.

Paul Senior told Light Reading that 5G Magic Box availability will track 5G New Radio (NR) network launches by about six months. "Airspan is developing a range of 5G NR Magic Boxes for customers around the world and our goal is to have this available within six months of the launch of 5G NR services in various markets," he said.

The 5G Magic Box, which will have Qualcomm's FSM100xx chipset at its heart, will connect to 5G basestations using NR standard-based wireless connections. Connections with end user devices will be handled by 4G radios. (See Qualcomm & Samsung to Work on 5G Small Cells).

Airspan first introduced the Magic Box in May 2017. It is now in its third generation of 4G-based Magic Box designs for Sprint in the US and has also had its technology deployed by disruptive Indian operator RJio. Airspan now says it is expanding to sell the box other carriers worldwide.

Sprint, meanwhile, says it will launch its initial 3GGP-based mobile 5G network soon, starting in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City in May. Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. will follow in the first half of 2019. (See Sprint Dribbles Out 5G Updates, but Big Picture Still Cloudy).

Sprint's CSO Kevin Crull has previously said (in May 2018) that the operator would deploy 5G Magic Box models as part of its next generation wireless network. (See Sprint Reveals 3 More 5G Cities, Promises 'Cool' 5G Phone & Small Cell.)

Airspan also announced that it is working with Qualcomm to integrate "the development and commercialization of 5G-NR relay for backhaul," using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

Just a few months ago, Airspan bought startup Mimosa for that company's fixed wireless technology and skills. (See Airspan Buys Mimosa for Fixed Wireless Know-How.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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