The next steps for 5G
Written by: Land Mobile | Published:

MWC 2020 may have been cancelled, but vendors still unveiled plenty of new products and solutions. Here, Land Mobile picks out a few of the announcements made by some of the major cellular infrastructure vendors.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of new product and solution announcements made over the MWC period related to 5G. 2019 saw the first implementations of 5G in live networks by the early adopter mobile operators. 2020 is expected to see many more operators launching 5G services.

Naturally, cellular infrastructure vendors have been adding new products to their portfolios to help operators implement 5G NSA services and get ready for 5G SA New Radio services in the future. Here is a round-up of some of the new solutions being offered by a few of the major vendors.

Ericsson

Fredrik Jejdling, executive VP and head of business area networks at Ericsson, said 2019 was the year in which 5G was introduced, and the main effort in 2020 is how to scale it up. There are now 13 million 5G subscriptions, and Jejdling estimates there will be 100 million by the end of 2020, with 20 to 25 per cent of MNOs launching 5G this year. He said Ericsson currently has 24 live 5G networks and 81 commercial agreements signed.

Ericsson’s new products and solutions were largely on the operations and business support services side and are designed to enhance the user experience, cut complexity and cost, and enable faster deployment of services and to boost automated provisioning.

The latest enhancements include Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G core with built-in software probes and Ericsson Cloud Native Infrastructure, enabling service providers to reduce TCO and complexity. The Ericsson Communication Accelerator is designed to enable fast delivery of advanced mobile business communication services to the market. Ericsson also launched its fully automated eSIM solution.

Ericsson unveiled two new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered offerings in its Network Services portfolio, which are designed to enable “communications service providers to secure alwayson networks and deliver optimal user experiences”.

Network Intelligence ensures service continuity by using data analytics to unify Ericsson’s technology and services knowledge, while Omni Network Channel digitalises Ericsson Support Services for quicker resolution of network issues through online collaboration.

Ericsson made new additions to its Radio Dot System portfolio, including the Dot 4475, a tri-band Radio Dot (8T8R) supporting multi-band, multi-operator deployments. There are also new products for the Ericsson Radio System and new antennas following the acquisition of antenna manufacturer Kathrein.

Finally, Ericsson has also launched AI-powered Energy Infrastructure Operations – a new energy management solution that leverages artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics to optimise energy consumption across network infrastructure for communications service providers.

Nokia

Nokia’s key launch was a new end-to-end slicing network functionality for 4G and 5G New Radio (NR). The solution will support connectivity from 4G and 5G devices over the sliced network to applications running in private and public clouds and will be available this summer.

The slicing capability can be deployed via a software upgrade into existing LTE and 5G non-standalone (NSA) networks and subsequently 5G standalone (SA) networks. The slicing continuity between LTE and 5G NR allows operators to maximise their network coverage for new mobile connectivity services. Nokia is already trialling live 4G/5G slicing use-cases with customers powered by a Software Defi ned Network (SDN) radio slice controller, as well as a transport slice controller.

Nokia has also introduced three software applications designed to make it easier for mobile operators to manage 5G networks: the Nokia Assurance Center; the Nokia Experience Center; and the Nokia Network Operations Master. The Assurance Center and the Experience Center are cloud-native software applications, which the company says will help communication service providers (CSPs) operate their networks more efficiently and effectively, and drive new revenue opportunities.

The Nokia Assurance Center blends the traditionally separate fault and performance management processes to drive intelligent root-cause analysis, which then triggers prioritised and automated resolution. The Nokia Experience Center is designed to help operators meet their service-level agreements (SLAs) as they expand into vertical industries. The Experience Center incorporates the subscriber dimension, quantifies the customer experience of the services being delivered, and links these values into the SLAs. Nokia’s Network Operations Master is a new addition to Nokia’s network management portfolio, which delivers tools for troubleshooting, administration, software management and confi guration management, automating many of the operations controls that used to be done manually.

In January, Nokia announced that it had secured 63 commercial 5G contracts worldwide. The company said it had 18 live networks under way and over 100 5G agreements in total if paid network trials, pilots or demonstrations are also included.

Huawei

Huawei launched so many new products in February it is difficult to keep up. Its new Blade AAU (active antenna unit) can work under all sub6GHz frequency bands and support 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks. This addresses the issue of limited space for antenna installation and reduces the total cost of ownership (TCO) by over 30 per cent when compared to existing solutions.

A new 5G network, made up of a series of solutions, was also launched at the event. This brings together: a simplified radio access network – the Blade AAU, a massive MIMO antenna and a wideband AAU; the smart IP network – Huawei’s FlexE-based fl exible network slicing, the Network Cloud Engine, and In-situ Flow Information Telemetry (iFIT); the ultra-high-bandwidth transport network, which uses Huawei’s 800G module; “Green connections” – made up of an AAU that uses highly integrated chips to reduce power consumption, together with Huawei’s AI-enabled PowerStar solution; and AI-enabled end-to-end 5G services – a collection of lifecycle management solutions.

Other solutions included a live broadcast backpack and the HiCampus solution. The former is embedded with a 5G module to help make live broadcasting easier to achieve, and the latter brings together Huawei’s AirEngine Wi-Fi 6, Campus OptiX and the Horizon Digital Platform.

In addition, Huawei’s RuralStar Pro solution, which integrates baseband, radio frequency (RF) and wireless backhaul functions into one base station, is designed to reduce site deployment costs and make it possible to provide voice and mobile broadband services to remote villages with a population smaller than 500.

Huawei has also announced the enterprise edition of its 5G LampSite small cell, LampSite EE, for industry scenarios. It is mainly tailored for industry applications, such as manufacturing, hospitals, transportation and warehouses. LampSite EE provides five main 5G functions: indoor ultrabroadband; indoor precise locating; industrial-grade ultra-low latency; indoor ultra-reliability; and industrial-grade dense concurrency.

The company also announced that it has won 91 commercial 5G contracts and shipped over 600,000 5G Massive MIMO antennas globally.

ZTE

ZTE’s main launch was its dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) solution, meaning it has joined Ericsson and Huawei in being able to offer this service. Nokia announced in December 2019 that its 4G/5G DSS offering would not be released until some time in 2020.

ZTE’s SuperDSS solution offers tri-RAT dynamic spectrum sharing using its Magic Radio Pro solution. DSS enables 5G signals to share 4G lanes without introducing extra lanes. This helps operators deploy 5G in a fast and agile way.

SuperDSS supports 2G/4G/5G or 3G/4G/5G full dynamic sharing at the same time over 1800MHz or 2100MHz bands. Use of SuperDSS enables operators to deliver fast 5G deployment, while at the same time offering legacy voice services on demand over 2G and 3G using the 1800MHz or 2100MHz bands. This enables operators to maximise return on investment on their spectrum.

CommScope

CommScope announced new enhancements to its OneCell small cell solution designed to help mobile operators deploy 5G in enterprises and venues. It also unveiled several antenna solutions, connectors and power options to make it simpler and faster for wireless operators to build their 5G networks.

The new small cell solutions include open interfaces, virtualised RAN functions, and new radio points for its OneCell small cell portfolio. The OneCell solution leverages the latest open RAN and management frameworks to deliver in-building wireless services. Among the new features is support for 5G mmWave and sub-6GHz bands.

CommScope is offering narrow-width antennas, which will add capacity to sites with zoning restrictions or where structural loading is limited. CommScope said it offers antennas in multiple lengths and bands with a 14 per cent narrower width and 15 per cent lower wind loading, and claims it is the only one in the industry to offer four mid-band arrays for 43cm and three mid-band arrays in 39cm, which allows operators to attach more radios to a single antenna.

The roll-out of 5G means more remote radio units that are high-powered and, in some regions, a shift to massive MIMO architecture. To address the higher-power needs of 5G remote radio units, CommScope is offering a new version of its PowerShift line of products on a single-rack unit, supporting up to 2,000 wattage per circuit, with power connectors in the front.

Cradlepoint

Cradlepoint has announced a new portfolio of “5G for Business” solutions powered by the company’s NetCloud Service, which are designed to help customers deploy fast and reliable wireless business internet and wide-area networks (WANs).

Cradlepoint’s W2000-Series 5G Wideband Adapter is a 5G wireless edge solution. It combines the NetCloud platform with new 5G modems and antenna systems to offer capabilities including: combined LTE and 5G in a single wireless WAN; support for all 5G bands; interoperability with existing customer SD-WAN and router infrastructures; and delivering the entire network management lifecycle.


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