BT, Ericsson claim 5G first with wideband FDD trial

UK’s top telco and leading global comms tech provider reveal results of trial demonstrated the benefits of configuring spectrum to pave way to standalone mobile networks supporting advanced applications

BT and Ericsson claim to have demonstrated the transmission of 5G services in a wideband frequency division duplex (FDD) radio carrier over 20MHz, within a sub-3 GHz spectrum band. 

The trial was conducted on BT’s live EE network in the west of England, and just north of the greater London area, using existing Ericsson commercial hardware (Baseband 6648, Radio 4419) and by activating the software feature Large Bandwidth Support Low-Band, testing with MediaTek Dimensity-powered handsets with integrated MediaTek M80 Release-16 modem.

In all, the trial – described by the technology partners as a breakthrough – is said to have shown a capacity uplift of more than three times with a single FDD carrier. This is particularly significant for the uplink in 5G Standalone (5G SA), which is currently based on a single carrier.

The trial is also said to have demonstrated the benefits of configuring a wide carrier bandwidth of 50MHz (50MHz downlink + 50MHz uplink) in EE’s 2.6GHz band and performing downlink aggregation with two TDD (time division duplex) carriers in EE’s 3.5GHz band. The trial also evaluated an intermediate carrier bandwidth of 30MHz.

BT and EE said enabling 5G to be expanded in FDD bands is an important step in paving the way for the arrival of EE’s 5G Standalone mobile network, which is said to be designed to enable future superior experiences for consumers and businesses – meeting the growing demand for data, driven by the likes of cloud gaming, virtual reality and emerging edge technologies.

“This breakthrough is the latest example of our commitment to maximising the full potential of 5G for our customers,” said BT Group chief of networks Greg McCall.

“As network quality and accessibility improve, so too will innovation and the 5G services ecosystem,” he said. “Demonstrating new network capabilities such as those announced today is critical to achieving this goal, and also paves the way to ensuring that 5G SA delivers new possibilities for our customers.”

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Ericsson UK and Ireland chief technology officer for networks and managed services, Evangelia Tzifa, said: “This is a great step forward for the deployment of 5G Standalone for EE in the UK. Ericsson innovative software capabilities such as large bandwidths for NR FDD, as well as NR Carrier Aggregation, enable a solid foundation for improved end user experience and network performance. This is a fundamental link for business success and the evolution to next-generation connectivity across the country.”

Ho-Chi Hwang, general manager of wireless communication systems and partnerships at MediaTek, said: “This remarkable achievement of boosting uplink capacity is a fundamental step for the evolution from 5G Non-Standalone to 5G Standalone networks.

“By supporting an uplink connection in a single FDD carrier with a wider bandwidth, MediaTek Dimensity 5G chipsets already meet the surging demand for uplink data in a new era of mobile applications.”

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