Nokia and Telia complete successful outdoor trial in 6 GHz range with massive MIMO radio

  • Pilot demonstrates macro-grid-ready uplink performance of the upper 6 GHz spectrum band with massive MIMO radio; confirms readiness for large area capacity growth for 5G and 6G networks.
  • Massive MIMO radio based on Nokia’s AirScale Habrok platform enables early tests in the upper 6 GHz band.
  • Upper 6 GHz range will add crucial capacity to existing cell sites to support next-generation 5G-Advanced and 6G networks.

Espoo, Finland – Nokia and Telia today announced that they have successfully completed a field pilot in the upper 6 GHz spectrum band range that will add crucial capacity and coverage to existing macro cell sites in dense urban environments for next-generation 5G-Advanced and 6G networks. The trial, which utilized a massive MIMO antenna based on Nokia’s AirScale Habrok radio, showed how Nokia’s technology leadership offers mobile operators a seamless network evolution path when 5G-Advanced and 6G networks become available.

With ever-increasing traffic growth and demand for mobile broadband, operators are looking for efficient ways to keep pace and deliver capacity and coverage where it is needed. New 5G-Advanced and 6G use cases will only add to this demand.

Given the rate at which data traffic is increasing, most operators will need to increase their TDD mid-band spectrum holdings in the second half of the decade. The allocation of the upper 6 GHz spectrum for mobile services, which means a possible 200 MHz of mid-band TDD spectrum per operator, was agreed upon at the World Radio Conference 2023. It is especially important in markets where the 7.2-8.4 GHz range will not be available.

During the trial, Nokia used a 128TRX massive MIMO radio based on its AirScale Habrok platform and a test terminal from MediaTek with integrated antennas. The pilot examined whether the uplink coverage on the new, higher frequency is compatible with the existing inter-site distances. The companies tested the upper part of the band (n104) and used a 3.5 GHz massive MIMO cell of the same RF-bandwidth across various distances to replicate different real-world scenarios. Field tests confirmed the macro-grid-readiness of the upper 6 GHz spectrum used with massive MIMO. It showed that massive capacity can be added in urban areas, where there is higher demand for TDD broadband, and high throughput can be achieved in suburban or rural areas. This offers operators an evolution path to 5G-Advanced and 6G, in the future.

Luciana Camargos, Head of Spectrum at the GSMA, said: “The critical role which mobile networks play for society, enterprises and governments comes with increased demand for data traffic. Mobile operators need additional spectrum to serve growing connectivity needs, so commercialisation of the upper 6 GHz band will be an important tool in enabling the digital ambitions of each country.”

Stefan Jäverbring, Group Chief Technology Officer at Telia, said: “As our customers generate increasing amounts of mobile traffic, it is essential to have further access to mid-band TDD spectrum to enhance digitalization in our markets and serve our customers appropriately. This field test with our partner, Nokia, is an important step in demonstrating how this can be done sustainably, as it would be possible to use our existing site grid. In this way, deployment would be faster and have less environmental impact, creating fewer carbon emissions than the alternative of adding capacity by building more new sites.”

Mark Atkinson, Head of RAN at Nokia, said: “This field pilot demonstrates that Nokia is ready to help mobile operators integrate the bandwidth of these new spectrum allocations seamlessly into their existing network allowing them to provide coverage from the existing macro cell sites on the higher frequency bands. Nokia’s AirScale portfolio is already at the forefront of the industry and further enhancements to our massive MIMO solutions will support these future demands and our customers’ network evolution journey.”

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