The Swedish equipment manufacturer Ericsson has announced separate 5G research and development projects with Japanese cellcos KDDI and NTT DOCOMO to develop a better understanding of radio and core technologies in deployment scenarios, and to support the latter’s requirements for field trials as early as 2016.
In the first agreement, Ericsson and KDDI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the goal of advancing technology evolution towards 5G, as well as evaluating ‘performance and applicability of potential 5G key technology components’. The areas of interest for the companies include radio and core technologies. Both parties note that 5G is expected to drive what they term ‘an evolution of the entire future communications ecosystem, from devices to mobile access, IP core and the cloud’. It is understood that Ericsson’s 5G test network initiatives have been structured to assess interactions between mobile devices and radio access networks (RANs) in both indoor and outdoor scenarios, as well as the new capabilities and characteristics of core networks based on Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies. Further, as an adjunct to the ramping up of development of 5G in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has also announced the signing of an MoU with KDDI for ‘joint development of common views on next generation 5G technologies’, continuing the companies’ more than decade long history of collaboration.
In another Japan-related 5G announcement, Ericsson says that it is supporting NTT DOCOMO’s requirements for field trials that are likely to begin as early as 2016 with the introduction of 5G radio prototypes, including multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) technology and so-called ‘beamforming’ (i.e. a signal processing technique used to control the directionality of the reception or transmission of a signal on a transducer array), that can be deployed in ‘live outdoor and indoor network environments and across multiple sites’. Ericsson says that radio access prototypes integrate with cloud-based network slicing to ‘enable agility and differentiated services for consumers, enterprise and a wide array of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications’.
Commenting on the MoU, Seizo Onoe, EVP and CTO, NTT DOCOMO, said: ‘We are pleased to take the next step toward testing in a realistic network environment. Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be a great opportunity to propose many different use cases of 5G, which will be launched in 2020. We expect that this would lead to even further opportunities. Ericsson’s 5G radio prototypes will help us to gain insights into the potential for 5G in our network environment and market, to open up new possibility to enable new services for our customers and partners.’