Sprint and Ericsson Conduct First U.S. Field Tests for 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO

Sep 12, 2017
  • Field tests completed in Seattle and Plano, TX, as companies prepare for commercial deployment
  • Massive MIMO to power Gigabit LTE and 5G services with up to 10X capacity increase

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- At Mobile World Congress Americas, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) today unveiled results of the first U.S. 2.5 GHz Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) field tests conducted in Seattle, Washington and Plano, Texas using Sprint’s spectrum and Ericsson’s 64T64R (64 transmit, 64 receive) radios. The two companies are preparing for commercial deployment next year, with Massive MIMO radios capable of increasing Sprint’s network capacity up to ten times.

“Massive MIMO is a game changer for adding capacity to our network and taking LTE Plus to the next level,” said Dr. John Saw, Sprint CTO. “This technology is a tremendous competitive advantage for Sprint, enabling us to maximize our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings. Massive MIMO will be key to meeting our customers’ growing demand for unlimited data, as well as offering Gigabit LTE and 5G services.”

Testing of Massive MIMO on the Sprint LTE Plus network in downtown Seattle showed a capacity increase of approximately four times compared to an 8T8R antenna. To showcase this capacity, Sprint convened 100 people with Samsung Galaxy S7 phones and ran simultaneous file downloads on a timed-test on all networks. The testing showed a 100 percent success rate on the Massive MIMO-powered Sprint network, which was a significantly higher result compared to the other networks.

In Plano, Texas, Sprint and Ericsson also recently tested Ericsson’s 64T64R Massive MIMO radios reaching peak speeds of more than 300 Mbps using a single 20 MHz channel of 2.5 GHz spectrum.

For both field trials, Ericsson provided the radio network infrastructure and backhaul equipment. Sprint and Ericsson together developed the test cases and requirements, which included a variety of performance scenarios involving multi-user and non-stationary testing. The Radio Network infrastructure included Ericsson’s next-generation 5G-ready AIR6468 radio, and the backhaul equipment utilized the MINI-LINK 6352 R2 microwave radios which can provide up to 10 Gbps of backhaul, future proofing the network for 5G.

Massive MIMO a Competitive Advantage for Sprint in 2018

The companies will use the field trial results in preparation for commercial deployment of Massive MIMO in the U.S. beginning in 2018. In cities across the U.S., Sprint plans to deploy 64T64R Massive MIMO radios using its 2.5 GHz spectrum to increase capacity up to ten times. The technology will become part of Sprint’s extended network toolbox as it works to densify and optimize the network, providing more capacity, better reliability, and overall improved performance for customers. In addition Massive MIMO is slated to power Gigabit LTE services, and it will be a key element of Sprint’s 5G network.

Nishant Batra, Head of Network Infrastructure, Ericsson says: “Ericsson and Sprint have been collaborating on new technologies and continually evolving Sprint’s LTE network, laying the foundation for 5G. Our next-generation 5G-ready TDD 64T64R Massive MIMO radio (AIR6468) will help maximize spectral efficiency of Sprint’s 2.5 GHz network. It will also provide a cost-efficient way to support their customers’ growing appetite for increased capacity and high-speed data services. This will be the industry’s first live eCPRI installation, which allows for several deployment and performance advantages to operators in the 5G era.”

Massive MIMO is a differentiator for Sprint because it can be easily deployed on high-band spectrum such as Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum. Massive MIMO radios can support high-frequency bands with a small form factor, whereas the physics of lower-frequency spectrum bands would require radios far too large in size to manufacture and deploy on a broad scale.

64T64R Massive MIMO radios use 128 antenna elements - many more than what is used for 2T2R, 4T4R, or 8T8R in a typical 4G LTE network today. These Massive MIMO antennas use advanced horizontal and vertical beamforming technology to focus and transmit cellular signals into targeted locations. This more efficient use of spectrum delivers faster speeds and provides more data capacity to customers in high-traffic locations.

By 2022, Ericsson expects video applications to drive an eight-fold increase in mobile data traffic. Massive MIMO will be a key technology to enable users to enjoy data-intensive services and advanced features and applications on Sprint’s LTE Plus network. When deployed on the network, Massive MIMO can provide all mobile device users with performance improvements, and those with the latest generation of devices with the most antenna elements will see the best performance.

Sprint and Ericsson are demonstrating Massive MIMO daily at Mobile World Congress Americas in the Sprint Booth in Hall North Stand N.866 September 12 – 14, 2017.

Video Resources:

Showcasing the Capacity of Massive MIMO – Seattle Field Trial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-0lCWhW7I0

Behind the Scenes with Massive MIMO – Seattle Field Trial:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08iAYPxcClk&feature=youtu.be

About Sprint:

Sprint (NYSE:S) is a communications services company that creates more and better ways to connect its customers to the things they care about most. Sprint served 53.7 million connections as of June 30, 2017 and is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including the first wireless 4G service from a national carrier in the United States; leading no-contract brands including Virgin Mobile USA, Boost Mobile, and Assurance Wireless; instant national and international push-to-talk capabilities; and a global Tier 1 Internet backbone. Sprint has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America for the past five years. You can learn more and visit Sprint at www.sprint.com or www.facebook.com/sprint and www.twitter.com/sprint.

About Ericsson:

Ericsson is a world leader in communications technology and services with headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Our organization consists of more than 111,000 experts who provide customers in 180 countries with innovative solutions and services. Together we are building a more connected future where anyone and any industry is empowered to reach their full potential. Net sales in 2016 were SEK 222.6 billion (USD 24.5 billion). The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on NASDAQ in New York. Read more on www.ericsson.com.

Source: Sprint and Ericsson

Sprint

Adrienne Norton, 425-256-7014

adrienne.norton@sprint.com

or

Ericsson

Kathy Egan

Mobile 917-362-1600

kathy.egan@ericsson.com