PRESS RELEASE: On August 27, 2019, NGMN Alliance announced the conclusion of the cluster connector project, electing Huawei proposed MQ4/MQ5 cluster connector as the recommended industry standard for early 5G deployment. As a key technology of 5G NR in particular for 5G antennas, the RF cluster connector standardization will enable operators to simplify logistics, accelerate time-to-market, and decrease installation costs.

NGMN’s new white paper – Recommendation for RF Cluster Connector for use in 5G NR 8T8R TDD Deployment – describes the selection process and explores the features that make a common RF cluster connector the most suitable for early 5G deployment.

Along with mobile network development where increased spectrum and high order MIMO are applied, operators now require highly integrated antennas, such as those supporting multi-band FDD and LTE TDD/5G NR 8T8R. To reduce antenna end cap size and simplify 5G site installation, cluster connectors have become mandatory for antennas in the 5G era as they enable:

Increased band support without increased antenna size, avoiding scaled site modification. To implement the simplified 5G site strategy, one antenna must support multi-band multi-channel configuration to incorporate the full spectrum in order to incorporate the full spectrum. In such cases, there may be as many as 30 antenna RF ports. Using typical single connectors, the antenna would need to increase in size to integrate these RF ports, however, antenna size is a critical factor in network deployment. Cluster connectors make it possible to support more RF ports within the existing size constraints of a typical antenna end cap.

Simplified multi-channel line sequential connection to improve deployment efficiency. During actual 8T8R network deployment, incorrect line sequential connection often occurs, leading to network performance degradation. Due to the numerous connectors on end caps of multi-port antennas, installation can be difficult and time-consuming. A cluster connector integrates several RF ports into one, avoiding the problem entirely and improving installation efficiency.

Huawei proposed MQ4/MQ5 cluster connector solution has already seen wide commercial application through Huawei antennas, including the London Platform antennas which support both FDD and TDD/NR 8T8R, the Munich Platform 30-port FDD antennas, and BladeAAU products. The MQ4/MQ5 power capacity, thermal design, and PIM performance meet high power output requirements and FDD PIM requirements, supporting both 4G and 5G in a single antenna deployment.

In order to provide a cluster connector standard in time for the 5G roll-out by operators, NGMN Alliance established the cluster connector project, comprised of leading international operators as well as network equipment, antenna and connector suppliers. The project team identified the key parameters for a suitable cluster connector, such as maturity, standardization readiness, electrical performance, mechanical performance, cable, and installation cost. The project participants contributed to the decision making through voting, defining the weights for each key parameter as well as rating each connector candidate on all key parameters.

Finally, through the combined weighted scoring of all voting participants, the connector type most suitable to perform as the recommended industry standard for early 5G deployment was identified: Type C (Huawei proposed MQ4/MQ5).