Massive MIMO Map Feb 2018 450

Dark blue: Building actively: China Mobile, Softbank Japan, Bharti India, Jio India, Vodafone India, Singtel, Globe Phillippines, Sprint USA

Medium: Announced: DT, FT/Orange, BT, Qatar, Verizon USA, T-Mobile Netherlands, Telekom South Africa  

Light blue: Talking: Vodafone England, Vodafone Turkey,
Safaricom Kenya, 

Lund testing

Prof on Massive MIMO: "TDD beamforming is the only feasible alternative"!?

Erik Larsson co-authored the textbook on Massive MIMO, which included an opinion that FDD MM would never be practical. MM requires the phone/UE to constantly report back metrics to the cell. TDD can do that efficiently; Larsson believes FDD cannot.

Verizon disagrees and is already deploying. Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE have done successful testing with telcos. Not long ago, a senior engineer at a large telco told me the company is confident their FDD cells will work just fine. 

Larssen and a team from Lund went out to the university parking lot. They used a 7 meter test rig with 128 elements. They tested at 2.6 GHz with a bandwidth of 50 MHz,

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Massive MIMO: Real Hardware Isn't Perfect

Bjornson and colleagues created a model of Massive MIMO that accounts for (some) imperfections in the real world. Components are never perfect, of course, but earlier MM models made that simplifying assumption.

Their conclusion: The ability of the UE/phone is the most important factor. That said, adding more antennas will significantly improve performance.

They warn about cheap antennas. "Large arrays might only be attractive for network deployment if each antenna element consists of inexpensive hardware. 

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24 Stream MM: 956 Megabits in 20 MHz

Softbank & ZTE demonstrate an 18X improvement in the test, if the press release details are correct. The China Mobile rule of thumb is MM delivers an average 3X gain, but results vary enormously.

Softbank was first in bringing MM to the field and in some cases did see a 10X improvement. In other locations, results were well under the hoped for 3X. Ironically, the worst location can be is where you have good line of sight. MIMO works by bouncing off the terrain.

LTE has a physical connection rate of 75 megabits in 20 MHz. That would be a maximum of 1,800 megabits. However, a third of that is used for signaling and error correction, resulting in about 50 megabits usable. 24 streams in theory could deliver 1,200 megabits. 

Softbank's "24 terminals downloaded FTP data simultaneously at a rate of 956 megabits." That's remarkably close to the maximum after just 18 months.

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Massive MIMO Reality: It Works & Triples Performance

China Mobile and Softbank Japan are deploying thousands. The three major Indians, Sprint & Verizon in the U.S., and True in Thailand are serving customers. I expect the Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone soon and dozens more in the next few years. The performance varies strongly with the terrain. Softbank reports results as high as a 10X improvement but the 3X reported by Huang Yuhong of China Mobile is more typical. 

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FDD SolvedVerizon First to Announce FDD Massive

They said it couldn't be done. They said nobody could do it. But Verizon and Ericsson now make the first announcement they are in the field with FDD Massive MIMO. They will deploy it wherever VZ needs capacity. 

For Massive MIMO to do its magic, the phones and other receivers need to constantly send upstream information about the signals they receive. Signaling overhead congestion was feared in FDD.

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Rice farmers Mae Wang Chiang Mai ProvinceTrue Puts Thailand on the Map

CTO Christopher Hopcraft believes advanced technology and faster service will allow True to continue to be the fastest growing mobile service in Thailand. One of the first to deploy 4x4 MIMO across an entire network. He now is moving to 64 antennas and Massive MIMO. 

Thailand has 69M people, more than Britain or France. Mobile penetration is 138%, as customers frequently switch between the three carriers. Some of the rice farmers in the Wikipedia picture probably carry a mobile.

 A few years ago, China Mobile invested $880M for an 18% stake. They encouraged the company to stay at the forefront of technology. China Mobile was one of the first countries to deploy Massive MIMO. Thailand is now the fifth.

Huawei is the supplier. 



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The Site for Massive 230
dave ask

Massive MIMO is rapidly deploying across the world; Soon, I'll be adding many more countries to the Massive MIMO map. On average, adding 64 or 128 antennas triples the performance of the cell site at moderate cost. Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE are shipping by the thousands.

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor.