At Mobile World Congress, Nokia and Sprint are demonstrating the benefits of massive MIMO, showcasing how this technology can boost cell capacity by eight times compared to 4G LTE.

The joint demonstration, showcased at Nokia’s booth, makes Sprint the first U.S. operator to demonstrate massive MIMO for TDD-LTE spectrum with 64T64R, for both the downlink and uplink on an existing LTE frequency. Massive MIMO, a key element of 5G, can enable LTE network performance well beyond 1Gbps.

Nokia’s newly launched AirScale massive MIMO Adaptive Antenna is part of the company’s 4.9G technology, which provides significant increases in capacity, lower latency and several Gigabits of speed-per-second on the path to 5G. The AirScale massive MIMO Adaptive Antenna is a milestone, driving capacity increases for megacity deployments and service continuity with 5G.

The Mobile World Congress demonstration uses 3D Beamforming software to deliver throughput gains of up to eightfold uplink and fivefold downlink. Eight commercially available devices operating on Sprint’s 2.5 GHz TDD-LTE band 41 spectrum will be used.

Massive MIMO takes MIMO technology and scales it up, using 64T64R as compared to 2T2R/4T4R/8T8R in a typical 4G LTE network, but in a relatively compact commercial form. These antennas, attached to a base station, focus the transmission and reception of signal energy into small regions of space. This provides new levels of spectral efficiency and throughput, and allows data consumption from more users in a dense area without requiring more radio spectrum or causing interference.

As such, massive MIMO is one of the key elements of 5G that delivers the needed high capacity, especially in the most densely populated locations such as city centers and high-rise buildings.

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Günther Ottendorfer, chief operating officer of Technology at Sprint, said:

“Massive MIMO is a critical part of our strategy to increase the capacity of our LTE Plus network today, and in the future, it will be a key element of our 5G network. Working with Nokia to deliver massive MIMO is a competitive advantage for Sprint because it is more easily deployed on 2.5 GHz spectrum due to the smaller form factor of the radios, and it’s an important innovation that will take advantage of our deep spectrum holdings.” 

Ricky Corker, head of North America at Nokia, said:

“Nokia’s massive MIMO technology is another proof point of our innovative work with Sprint in helping it define a long-term solution to provide service continuity for 5G. The significant cell capacity massive MIMO offers is why the technology will play a central role in 5G. Sprint can keep delivering the capacity its customers need, both now and in the future.