Sprint and Samsung test 2.5 GHz massive MIMO in Suwon

Paldalmun Gate in Suwon, Korea, recently. Image credit: Daengpanya Atakorn / Shutterstock.com

Sprint and Samsung Electronics America have revealed that they have been teaming up in Suwon, South Korea, to test massive MIMO technology on 2.5 GHz spectrum.

Sprint – which is majority-owned by Japan’s SoftBank – says the massive MIMO test represented a real-world application of the technology, slated to help it dramatically boost LTE Plus wireless capacity and coverage, and offer Gigabit LTE service to its customers.

During field testing in Suwon, massive MIMO Samsung radios, equipped with vertical and horizontal beam-forming technology, reached peak speeds of 330 Mbps per channel using a 20 MHz channel of 2.5 GHz spectrum. Capacity per channel increased about four times, cell edge performance increased three times, and overall coverage area improved as compared to current radios.

The purpose of the test was to compare the performance of 64T64R massive MIMO radios with 8T8R radios that Sprint has already deployed across its US network. Samsung provided the massive MIMO network infrastructure as well as test network design, operation, data collection and processing. Both companies will use the results in preparation for commercial deployment of massive MIMO in the US and other markets.

“The testing in South Korea is an important step towards deploying massive MIMO in our US network where it will be a key element of LTE Plus as well as 5G,” said Günther Ottendorfer, Chief Operating Officer – Technology at Sprint. “Massive MIMO is a tremendous differentiator for Sprint because it is easily deployed on 2.5 GHz spectrum due to the small form factor of the radios needed for a high frequency band. In lower frequency bands, wavelengths are much longer and therefore the radios require much larger, impractical form factors. This makes massive MIMO an important tool for unleashing our deep 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings.”

“Our recent testing in Suwon delivered impressive capacity and coverage improvements in a real world environment, demonstrating how massive MIMO will greatly improve a customer’s wireless service experience,” said Mark Louison, Senior VP and General Manager of Samsung Networks.

In March, Sprint debuted Gigabit Class LTE on a live commercial network in New Orleans using three-channel carrier aggregation and 60 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum, in combination with 4X4 MIMO and 256-QAM higher order modulation, to achieve Category 16 LTE download data speeds on a TDD network. With massive MIMO radios using 64T64R, Sprint says it has the ability to push capacity beyond 1 Gbps to reach 3-6 Gbps per sector.

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