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Blue Danube Systems completes FDD LTE Massive MIMO commercial trials with Shentel and AT&T

Date: 16th February 2017
Topic: News
Author: Sam Fenwick
Technology:
Public networks
Tags: LTE, Blue Danube Systems, Massive MIMO

Blue Danube Systems, a provider of mobile wireless access solutions, has announced that it has completed first commercial trials of its Massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) system in licensed FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) LTE spectrum.

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The trials used Blue Danube’s BeamCraft 500 active antenna product for advanced 3D beamforming, which can deliver 160W of transmit power for a Massive MIMO system. Based on its underlying High Definition Active Antenna System (HDAAS) technology, the 96 element BeamCraft 500 can intelligently and seamlessly focus signal energy where it is needed, allowing wireless carriers to better serve high demand areas and minimise interference zones.

These trials were conducted with Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel) and AT&T, an investor in Blue Danube Systems, and supported more than 10TB of data during a three-month period. Through a simple retrofit of the existing antenna with a BeamCraft 500 unit at the trial sites, an 2-5-fold improvement in throughput was demonstrated for users in high traffic demand areas for the same transmit power as the legacy installation. Additionally, users received up to a 20-fold improvement in instantaneous video throughput and experienced smooth 1080p HD videos in locations where existing systems were stalling and previously only capable of 144p. A second phase of trials is now ongoing to test additional operational modes and traffic scenarios.  

This is the first commercial test of an FDD Massive MIMO system for deployment in current LTE networks. So far, more than 85 per cent of the commercial LTE networks have adopted the FDD air interface and these first HDAAS trials have demonstrated an effective capacity solution for these markets. Blue Danube is also developing additional HDAAS products for additional spectrum bands and TDD (Time Division Duplex) LTE operation to support several trials in Europe, Australia and North America in the first half of 2017. 

 “Working together with AT&T and Shentel has allowed us to validate our HDAAS technology in live commercial network conditions," said Mark Pinto, CEO of Blue Danube. "The results were consistent with our system performance simulations and the first FDD R&D trials we performed in 2Q16, demonstrating that our product can be used as a low friction upgrade to existing LTE networks to improve capacity.”  

“AT&T is committed to enabling next-generation mobile experiences by exploring leading-edge capabilities,” said Tom Keathley, senior vice president, Wireless Network Architecture & Design, AT&T. “The work we have done with Blue Danube to evaluate their beamforming technology in our live network supports this objective.” 

“The versatility of this advanced antenna system has provided a dramatic performance improvement in our commercial network by dynamically increasing RF energy in problem areas without impacting neighboring sites," said Willy Pirtle, senior vice president of wireless for Shentel.  

 “The demand for Massive MIMO solutions continues to increase as industry gears towards delivering 4G advancements and 5G. Mobile carriers are looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to improve network capacity and Blue Danube’s BeamCraft 500 is the first product designed to provide operators a low friction upgrade at existing sites targeting lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) for high-capacity,” said Earl Lum, president at EJL Wireless Research. “The compact form factor for a 160W system with no fans and use of existing Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) to the Base Station/eNodeB makes the solution very attractive. Results from first commercial trials are very promising and validate efficiency and simplicity of the system”. 

Massive MIMO opens up a new way to boost capacity in mobile telecom, by using the spatial dimension and multiple antennas to create multiple paths that re-use spectrum more effectively.   Instead of waiting for 5G, mobile operators are upgrading thousands of TD-LTE base stations with Massive MIMO this year,” said Joe Madden, founder and principal analyst at Mobile Experts. “It’s an exciting development which, as it gains momentum, may be able to leap into the FDD market as well. Blue Danube’s recent FDD field trial results using simple modules are very promising, and represent a big step toward cost-effective FDD and 5G solutions.”


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