National Instruments (NI) earlier this week conducted what it said was the first public demonstration of a real-time, over-the-air prototype designed to meet Verizon’s specifications for 5G at 28 GHz.
NI said its prototype was built using its mmWave Transceiver System with a new version of the RF mmWave heads operating at 28 GHz. Those were paired with phased array antennas developed by Anokiwave and Ball Aerospace, the company said. Additionally, the prototype system was written using LabVIEW software, and reportedly features fully modifiable real-time code for both the base station and the user equipment (UE or CPE).
The system was able to achieve a peak throughput rate of 5 Gbps using OFDM with eight component carriers in a 2×2 downlink MU-MIMO configuration with hybrid beamforming and a self-contained subframe. NI said the setup is scalable to hit over 20 Gbps with eight MIMO streams.
“This prototype demonstrates the power of the NI platform,” James Kimery, director of RF research and SDR marketing at NI, commented. “Researchers can take advantage of the combination of hardware and software to rapidly prototype new wireless standards and iterate quickly to reduce time to results. They can now prototype and test the Verizon 5G specification and move immediately to 5G New Radio once the standard stabilizes.”
According to an NI release, the demonstration was conducted at IEEE’s Wireless Communications and Networking Conference in San Francisco. The company said that though Verizon made its 5G Technology Forum specifications available in 2015 (and completed them in mid-2016) no other public over-the-air demo at 28 GHz had previously been held.
The demonstration comes as Verizon moves ahead with fixed wireless 5G trials at 28 GHz in 11 cities across the country. The carrier has honed in on 28 GHz following its acquisition of XO Communications and lease of affiliate airwaves in the aforementioned band.
Verizon, though, isn’t the only one looking at 28 GHz.
T-Mobile has also been conducting tests at that frequency, as has AT&T, which is also trying to snag 28 GHz licenses through the acquisition of FiberTower.
Following 3GPP’s recent announcement that it will be accelerating the 5G New Radio Non-Standalone specs by six months, AT&T also said it is planning to pick up the pace. The carrier is now eyeing standards-based rollouts as soon as the end of next year.