Some places will only be 2-5X. With hundreds and soon thousands of systems in Japan and China, there's no doubt the technology works. SoftBank and China Mobile were first in the world to deploy, Now, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon are discussing when, not whether. Since Sprint is owned by SoftBank, it was easy to predict they would join in. Mike Dano at Fierce had this story a month ago; now Ottendorfer has filled in the details.
"Massive MIMO – massive volumes of input and output streams – might sound like geek talk – it’s really just the ability with massive computing power to add massive numbers of antennas elements in the antennas on our cell sites. And 3D beamforming supported by Massive MIMO is simply more cell signals moving in both horizontal and vertical directions."
Gig LTE & Massive MIMO will raise capacity on U.S. networks at least 4X and more likely 7-15X in the next few years.
Field trials underway. mmWave is exciting, drawing headlines, and certainly will be crucial one day. Massive MIMO is here today, deploying by the thousands at China Mobile and Softbank Japan. Verizon's Shamsundar told me last year, "We must have Massive MIMO." The early generation of M-MIMO and mmWave are showing 3X to 5X performance improvements. 50X improvements will be possible, although no one believes that other than a few engineers.
Now, AT&T has confirmed they are in field trials. AT&T has invested in Blue Danube, whose 96 antenna BeamCraft 500, right, is about 5 feet tall. It produced a 2X to 5X improvement in a selected high traffic area. These results are yet more proof of the potency of Massive MIMO. ZTE and Huawei are seeing 3X to 10X improvements from full Massive MIMO systems at Softbank and China Mobile. With eight antennas, Huawei is delivering 1.5X in Kuwait.
"The commercial deployment of FDD - Frequency Domain - Massive MIMO is expected in 2017, including at China Telecom." (All the MM deployed today is TDD - Time Division.) That comment by ZTE is based on tests with China Telecom and China Unicom, both world class telcos. Huawei and ZTE are both shipping TDD gear. ZTE is a top-5 telecom manufacturer. Huawei has grown so much their sales totals and research budget are now more than Ericsson and Nokia combined.
Backing like this is highly credible. The joint press releases are below. I'm always skeptical until I have results from substantial field deployments, but wouldn't have doubted this except for work by Emil Bjornson, Erik Larsson, and Tom Marzetta. Marzetta invented Massive MIMO; Larsson & Bjornson are respected Swedish Professors.
More than half the spectrum in use is FDD - Frequency Division. Massive MIMO systems in the field today use TDD - Time Division.
Just a few consumer tests but they look good. Gig wireless (shared) is behind schedule; Telstra in Australia and SKT in Korea thought they would have it for customers before the end of 2016 but they haven't made it by Xmas. Pieces of the necessary technology are deploying widely. T-Mobile in many places is using four antenna MIMO and 256 QAM advanced coding. They are not bonding 4 channels, which would take peaks to around a gigabit. Sprint is widely bonding three channels and will go to four channels (80 MHz.)
Tyrone Beckwith at Tech Life Channel measures 40-50 megabits download (right), two or there times more that without those two improvements (left.) Larger picture below. That's much less than the 200-300 megabits peak, shared, from 20 MHz at the cell tower. Few users get the full 200+ most of the time. However, many will get much higher speeds than they are today.
Most users will not get close to the peak speed.
"We are planning commercial deployment of Massive MIMO sometime in 2017 (we cannot communicate definite dates yet)." Tom Tesch, Hutchison Drei Austria. Three years ago, Stanford Professor Paulraj told me Massive MIMO was going to produce an enormous capacity boost. It's now coming out of the labs. Every network architect in the world is watching the Massive MIMO at Softbank in Japan and China Mobile. They are getting between 3X and 10X more capacity in the same amount of spectrum and are ordering thousands of systems. I've received so many reports of "tests" I ignore them. I'm now getting committed builds, including Sprint in the U.S.
The press release said "tests" but company spokesman Tesch confirmed to me the decision is made to deploy.
5G is here. China Mobile and Softbank plan thousands of sites. At Huawei's remarkable Tokyo Mobile BBF, both Softbank Japan and China Mobile showed enthusiasm. These are the first large moves in 5G, pulling Massive MIMO at least one year ahead of high-frequency millimeter wave. I believe my report Softbank's Giga Monster Massive MIMO: World's first commercial 5G is not highband millimeter wave was the first in the West. I have since learned that Huawei, as well as ZTE, provided equipment.
Gear that triples capacity (or better) at modest cost is now in production from both Huawei and ZTE. Softbank has 100 base stations up and running. They are mostly in Tokyo but also in several other cities. China Mobile has working systems in two cities.
Their early reports are that 128 antenna Massive MIMO today increases capacity 3X to 10X. Expect considerably better results over time. MIMO inventor Paulraj of Stanford two decades ago realized that MIMO could enormously increase capacity in a given amount of spectrum. Remarkably, the additional throughput requires minimal additional power.
Respected engineers - Henry Samueli, Andrea Goldsmith, Vint Cerf - two years ago were comfortable with predictions that wireless capacity would soon increase 50X. MIMO is crucial to that goal.
Page 19 of 22