Happening in 5G: The Game Developers Conference 2017 demos underscore the trend towards mobile AR/VR, and the role of 5G connectivity to enable the user experience on the move; 3GPP announces a work schedule for early completion of Non-Standalone 5G NR specs likely including a LTE mobility anchor; China Mobile Prepares 5G Second-Phase Trials in 3.5 GHz; A 5G Massive MIMO Testbed in UK yields 100 Bits/Sec/Hertz; and FWA trying to disrupt FTTH in the last mile.
“Mobile Is a Shifting Landscape, Know the Terrain”
– 5 Things Happening in 5G.
Building Mobile AR/VR Platforms with 5G
At the recently held Game Developers Conference 2017 several companies exhibited and demonstrated proof of concept mobile AR/VR user experiences highlighting the trend towards mobile wearable AR/VR gear that will be as easy to use and as ubiquitous as the smartphone. At the conference, LeapMotion showed a reference headset with inside-out tracking and hand tracking (6-D0F VR HMD) capabilities running on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 mobile platform. This demo showed a combination of software and hardware targeted specifically for untethered, battery-powered virtual and augmented reality devices running off the same types of processors and platforms already used in smartphones around the globe. What it takes to make AR/VR mobile-first? LeapMotion CTO says that the challenges to build such a platform in this space are immense. As an example, he points to the need “to build a whole new Leap Motion sensor with higher performance and much lower power… We needed to make the most sophisticated hand tracking software in the world run at nearly 10 times the speed all while making it smoother and more accurate than ever before.” The ultimate result will be the merging and/or augmenting of digital and physical worlds while users are on the move, a truly mobile-first experience that will be enhanced and made mass-market ready with 5G’s higher capacity, lower latency and new communication/contextual features.
3GPP Plans 5G NR NSA for eMMB Early Completion
A major decision was taken last week in 3GPP regarding the timeline to complete 5G New Radio (NR) specifications. In particular, the RAN (Radio Access Network) group agreed to have an intermediate milestone for the early completion of the Non-standalone (NSA) 5G NR mode for the enhanced Mobile BroadBand (eMBB) use-case. In NSA mode the connection is anchored in LTE’s Core & Service facilities while 5G NR carriers are used to boost data-rates and reduce latency. With this early completion agreement, NSA will be finalized by March 2018. At the same time, the group re-instated its commitment to complete the Standalone (SA) 5G NR mode by September 2018 and put in place a plan to achieve that.
China Mobile Prepares 5G Second-Phase Trials in 3.5 GHz
China Mobile, following the 5G roadmap it outlined earlier, has started to prepare second-phase testing that plans to carry on during the second half of 2017. In these second-phase tests, China Mobile will use the 3.5 GHz band to set up the trial environment in cooperation with Qualcomm providing the device prototypes and ZTE providing the basestations. The trials will simulate several 5G NR use cases in real-world deployment scenarios as defined in China Mobile’s test plans. The focus of the trials will be on 5G New Radio (NR) as part of efforts to help ensure a timely commercial 5G launch, according to China Mobile Operation Technology Genera Manager Wang Xiaoyun. Wang said the collaboration with Qualcomm and ZTE is also expected to support rapid validation of their devices and equipment, which are based on the 5G NR specs being developed by 3GPP as part of future global 5G standard. The operator, the largest in the world with 851.2 million mobile subscribers as of January 2017, plans to build 20 5G sites in four to five cities by 2018 as part of these second-phase testing plans. By 2020, it aims to roll out 10,000 5G sites for commercial service launch.
5G Massive MIMO Testbed @ 100 Bits/Sec/Hertz
Newly reported results from one of the 5G trials conducted at British Telecom (BT) Labs indicate that a spectral efficiency of 100 Bits/Sec/Hertz has been reached. Researchers conducted the trial using the 3.5 GHz spectrum, used a basestation with an array of 128 antennas, and configured the antennas to run massive MIMO spatial multiplexing. The tests were conducted with a testbed that uses a software-defined radio (SDR) platform developed by National Instruments, and hardware platform provided by Bristol University. The test location was Suffolk’s BT Labs and included outdoors and indoor environments, the company’s large exhibition hall ,simulating a stadium environment. The trials, a collaboration between Bristol and Lund Universities, National Instruments (NI) and BT, were held to demonstrate the potential of Massive MIMO for 5G. The tests results of over 100 Bits/Sec/Hertz are indicative that a 10 times better performance than current LTE systems is achievable.
Will FWA Disrupt FTTH?
Mobile spectrum scarcity together with a price/GB of mobile data about 50-100 times that of fixed data are two commonly used arguments to make FTTH (Fiber To The Home) and other fixed broadband options a winner in last-mile broadband battles. The result is that Today, over 90% of Internet traffic is delivered to homes over fixed broadband connections. But there are signs that this might be about to change with the arrival of what is being called “5G FWA” (5G Fixed Wireless Access) connectivity. 5G FWA is seem by many as a disruptive alternative to last-mile fixed broadband such as FTTH. Much has been talked about, and already technology development and trials are underway involving large industry players that favor FWA mmWave solutions to reach users in their homes. But these mmWave frequencies suffer massive performance degradation when they hit trees, passing cars, etc. specially in the last 500-feet to a home and/or in non-line-of-sight conditions. This is one of the reasons why we are seeing in the marketplace alternative proposals to deploy FWA solutions in other parts of the spectrum such as in the sub-6 GHz bands. For example, California-based Mimosa Networks points “The wireless last mile is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario. We must take advantage of fiber where it’s available, use millimeter wave frequencies for reliable short-range backhaul, and most importantly, promote spectrum sharing and reuse techniques in the lower frequencies that are needed to reach people’s homes.” Mimosa’s newly released last mile wireless solutions – that they called MicroPop and GigaPoP – represent the “opportunity for ISPs to reliably deliver [wirelessly] hundreds of Megabits per second to each home at one-tenth the cost of fiber changes the game” says the company. These solutions target sub-6 GHz spectrum bands, and with less spectrum available, efficient spectrum reuse techniques such as their SRS technology are critical to achieve scale and make the solution competitive with fixed and other FWA alternatives.
Issue No. 15 (2017-02-05) of 5 Things Happening in 5G sifting through reliable sources to bring you carefully selected, buzzworthy, and focused biz, tech, and market trends.
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