Optus and Vodafone are all about the massive MIMO demos

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Australian cellco Optus and rival Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced successful massive MIMO trials on Friday. One was TDD and one was FDD; both used Huawei gear, but only one was claimed as a world-first.

That would be Optus, who announced it had completed a successful live network test combining massive MIMO and 3CC carrier aggregation technologies.

The test – which actually took place in June, but is now being announced publicly – was carried out on live traffic at Macquarie Park, and clocked a maximum data speed of 818 Mbps. Huawei’s massive MIMO integrated antenna system used in the live site is designed to deliver 64T64R MIMO, supporting up to 80 MHz of all four carriers of Optus’ 2300-MHz TDD band.

Optus said site capacity during the live testing was improved by almost four times, compared to legacy 4T4R MIMO base stations.

Dennis Wong, managing director of Optus Networks, said the trial marked the first time anywhere that an operator had implemented massive MIMO and 3CC CA together using the same equipment on a live network.

Optus completed a massive MIMO field trial earlier this year. The cellco plans to roll out massive MIMO sites in selected capital cities starting from the end of this year to alleviate network congestion in high-traffic areas. (Optus added a footnote that whether customers will be able to get anywhere near 818 Mbps connections will depend on “type of download and device capability”.)

Meanwhile, Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced it had successfully conducted its first field demonstration of massive MIMO for FDD spectrum – also using Huawei gear.

That demo utilized 20 MHz of FDD 1800 MHz spectrum and Huawei’s active antenna unit (AAU), which supports 32T32R MIMO. The demo registered cell throughput speeds of 717 Mbps across eight devices.

Vodafone said it plans to roll out FDD massive MIMO to selected mobile sites during 2018.

Optus and Vodafone also promoted their respective trials as stepping stones to 5G.

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