ZTE announced yesterday that the first pre-commercial test of D-MIMO (distributed multiple input and multiple output) technology boosted the data rate at the cell edge by up to nine times.

The D-MIMO demo was based on the vendor’s Cloud Radio platform. The outdoor part of the field test covered single-user and multiple-user scenarios in an environment with multiple overlapping base stations, and used commercially available mobile devices, the company said.

Since mobile networks comprise many base stations, interference can degrade signaling at the cell edge. D-MIMO technology can improve the data rate at the cell edge through coordinated transmission among base stations.

ZTE claimed the service data rate of a single testing cell has been at least quadrupled in an ideal non-interference situation, while a number of testing cells have enhanced their resistance to interference by more than a hundred times.

ZTE has been talking up its so-called “pre-5G” concept since November, saying it will be available much sooner than 5G.

SoftBank announced in July it would use ZTE’s pre-5G technology based on TDD technology, with pre-commercial test networks to be completed by early next year. The operator planned to start initial field testing in Q3 using the vendor’s Massive MIMO offering.