Ericsson and O2 Telefónica develop 5G networks with 10-kilometer coverage through microwave connectivity

Ericsson and O2 Telefónica have recently proved 5G wireless distribution network for rural and suburban coverage. This capacity has saw light before their latest joint project. This technology milestone has shown that the companies can deliver speeds of up to 10 Gbps over a distance of more than 10 km and demonstrate fiber-like microwave connectivity.

This demonstrates that microwave backhaul in traditional bands can support the continued build-out of high-performance 5G networks and enhanced mobile broadband services from urban to suburban and rural areas. This has been, actually, one of the biggest challenges associated to the 5G network spreading.

Traditionally, such areas have been difficult to service, as high capacities require broad bandwidths that usually only have been available in millimeter wave frequency bands (E-band). The E-band is more impacted by rain compared to the lower frequency bands, which makes it more difficult to deliver consistent service over long distances during adverse weather conditions.

The ability to deliver such high data rates over distances of more than 10 km brings great advantages in providing reliable, low-latency broadband in hard-to-reach areas.

“Together with our partner Ericsson, we are pioneering new powerful microwave solutions using Carrier Aggregation and MIMO technology to backhaul 5G traffic over long distances in rural areas, when fiber is not an option. This type of technology enables us to deliver fiber-like connectivity via microwave and further accelerate our 5G deployment,” affirmed Aysenur Senyer, Director of Transport Networks at O2 Telefónica.

The key innovation is the ability to use MIMO with high modulation in the 112MHz channels (commercial MIMO solutions support up to 56 MHz channels), which were combined with Carrier Aggregation to enable similar capacities to E-band in the lower frequency bands.

The backhaul link utilized the 18GHz frequency band, dual antennas in a MIMO configuration, and commercial MINI-LINK radios together with a pre-commercial baseband algorithm that allowed the use of MIMO in 2x 112 MHz channels. MIMO ensures the efficient use of limited spectrum resources. The same capacity without MIMO would demand a 448 MHz bandwidth in a cross-polar setup.

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