Huawei and Vodafone have completed a 5G millimetre-wave field test at Vodafone’s Emerald House location in Newbury, UK. The test covers SU-MIMO (Single User Multiple Input Multiple Output) with a strong reflection path to reach 20Gbps UE peak rate, and MU-MIMO (Multi User Multiple Input Multiple Output) for long-range UE to reach 10Gbps peak rate.

It is claimed as the world’s first 5G outdoor field test at E-Band (70 – 80GHz) reaching 20Gbps peak rate for a single user device with high spectrum efficiency. This peak user rate is targeted by ITU-R as a 5G requirement. This is a key milestone after the two companies signed a co-operation agreement on 5G technologies in 2015 and a 5G Acceleration memo of understanding in July 2016.

The demand for spectrum to provide higher-capacity mobile access and self-backhaul has been rising drastically due to soaring mobile broadband communications traffic. The situation is even more critical when operators are faced with the challenge to deliver ultra-high throughout in emerging 5G network. As traditional lower bands used in current cellular access becomes ever more crowded, there is an increasing effort in the industry to explore the centimetre wave (cmWave) and millimeter wave (mmWave) bands to meet broadband speed requirements. This test will contribute to the study of spectrum above 6GHz for 5G enhanced mobile broadband, and to promote global spectrum harmonization in the coming World Radio Congress in 2019 (WRC-19).

E-Band can be used as a complementary spectrum band to the lower-band to deliver ultra-high mobile broadband user experience. In particular, say the partners, it can enable new applications such as VR/AR (virtual/augmented reality) and act as self-backhaul for the 5G mobile service traffic.

Narrow-band collaboration

The two companies announced in April that they will collaborate in an Open IoT Lab to work on the development of products and applications relating to Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology.

The lab will provide a pre-integration testing environment for application developers and device, module and chip manufacturers. The facility, which is the first of seven that Huawei plans to open, will also offer support to developers and partners. They will work with both companies to explore cutting edge developments including network solution verification, new application innovation, device integration, and product compliance certification.

Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone Group R&D Director and Chairman of the GSMA NB-IoT Forum said: “As one of the founding members of the GSMA NB-IoT forum, we’re delighted that the first lab is up and running. Over the past 12 months we’ve made significant progress establishing industry standards for the technology and the new labs will be critical to the next phase of development, which is to build a vibrant NB-IoT ecosystem.”

David Wang, president of Wireless Product Line at Huawei said: “With our decade-long strategic partnership with Vodafone, the creation of this lab is another important milestone in our long term relationship. Working with Vodafone, we have accelerated standardization of the technology and carried out successful pre-commercial trials. This facility will be crucial in supporting the deployment of NB-IoT globally and contribute to the promotion of its ecosystem.”

“The GSMA’s Mobile IoT initiative has been instrumental in aligning the industry behind three complementary technologies in NB-IoT, Extended Coverage GSM For IoT (EC-GSM-IoT) and Cat-M that will underpin a diverse range of solutions in the burgeoning LPWA market,” said Graham Trickey, Head of Connected Living Programme, GSMA. “There are already a number of pilots taking place around the world and we welcome the work of the GSMA NB-IoT Forum that will help to accelerate the availability of commercial solutions in licensed spectrum.”

The narrowband technology provides significantly improved network coverage for Internet of Things communications, supports deeper coverage, a large number of connections, while lowering power consumption. It is viewed by the industry as the most appropriate solution for enterprise applications in a range of different areas, from utility meters, sensor monitoring to asset-tracking.

Vodafone, the world’s leading communication service provider for managed machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, and Huawei jointly showcased a demonstration of smart metering at Mobile World Congress 2015, and completed the first successful commercial trial of pre-standard NB-IoT in November 2015. This trial was the first of its kind to successfully implement narrowband communications for smart metering using licensed cellular bands.

Huawei and Vodafone are already working with a number of companies to develop NB-IoT applications. The first devices connected by NB-IoT technologies are expected in late 2016 or early 2017.