Home5GSoftBank sees massive MIMO as key part of its 5G project

SoftBank sees massive MIMO as key part of its 5G project

SoftBank looks to deploy a few thousand massive MIMO sites across Japan in 2017.

TOKYO – Japanese mobile operator SoftBank believes massive multiple-input/multiple-output antenna technology will represent a key part of the firm’s “5G” strategy.

Hidebumi Kitahara, senior director of mobile netowrk planning at SoftBank, said during a media briefing in Tokyo this week, that a total of 100 cell sites, mostly in Tokyo, had already been upgraded with the technology. Kitahara also said the technology would be deployed in “a few thousand sites” across Japan next year, with equipment provided by ZTE and Huawei.

“We are currently commercially offering this technology in Tokyo, Osaka and another four cities,” Kitahara said, adding sites were deployed in stadiums, domes and stations.

“So far this technology is running very well,” the executive said, noting massive MIMO is a key tool for the carrier in solving capacity problems. SoftBank said it has seen a tenfold boost in capacity since it began rolling the technology out in September.

Massive MIMO is currently available for SoftBank’s LTE-TDD network. However, the Japanese telco is urging vendors to develop massive MIMO also for FDD equipment. Kitahara also said the current deployment does not support carrier aggregation. However, the telco is looking to launch a new version of this technology supporting CA.

In July 2015, SoftBank signed a memorandum of understanding with ZTE to collaborate on research and development on pre-5G mobile communications networks technology, including massive MIMO.

Kitahara also said SoftBank is looking to commercially launch solutions based on narrowband “internet of things” technology by mid-2017. The company is currently carrying out a NB-IoT field trial in Chiba prefecture, the executive said.

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