LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS AMERICAS 2017: Sprint is gearing up to deploy 64T64R massive MIMO technology in the first half of 2018 to expand capacity and lay the foundation for 5G.
The US-based operator on Tuesday announced the successful completion of massive MIMO field tests with Ericsson in Seattle, Washington, and Plano, Texas. The trials used Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum to reach peak speeds of more than 300Mb/s on a single 20MHz channel.
In a media roundtable, Sprint CTO John Saw said the massive MIMO units are actually smaller than the competition’s 700MHz antennas but offer a four- to ten-times improvement in sector capacity. Ultimately, the systems will be capable of supporting speeds between 3Gb/s and 6Gb/s, he added.
Ericsson is currently preparing to head into production with the new equipment. Saw and Sprint’s COO of technology Guenther Ottendorfer said the technology will be used to rollout added capacity where it’s needed.
“Where it makes sense, where we have capacity needs, we’ll switch out the 8T8R antennas and put in massive MIMO antennas,” Saw said. “Everything that we’re talking about today is a stepping stone to 5G.”
While Saw said Sprint will need to secure permits to swap out the antennas, he noted the rest of the process will essentially be plug and play. There will be no need for consumers to upgrade devices, he said, as massive MIMO will work on all 2.5GHz capable phones from Release 9 or later.