IBM & Ericsson Announce Research Advance for 5G Communications Networks

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The FINANCIAL — IBM and Ericsson on February 7 announced a research breakthrough that could accelerate the launch of 5G communications networks and support new mobile enterprise and user experiences enabled by very high data rates, including IoT, connected vehicles, and immersive virtual reality.

The companies have created a compact silicon-based millimeterWave (mmWave) phased array integrated circuit operating at 28GHz that has been demonstrated in a phased array antenna module designed for use in future 5G base stations. 

2017 has been described as a defining year for 5G. More countries and governments are opening up new frequency portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, including portions known as millimeter wave bands, which are more than 10 times higher than the frequencies currently used for current mobile devices, offering a new source of bandwidth for cellular networks that are being made available for 5G networks, according to IBM.

Scientists at IBM Research and Ericsson reached their breakthrough as a result of a two year collaboration that set out to develop phased array antenna designs for 5G. IBM’s expertise in highly integrated phased array mmWave IC and antenna-in-package solutions, together with Ericsson’s expertise in circuit and system design for mobile communications, helped the team reach several new technological milestones.

Thomas Noren, Senior Advisor, Business Unit Network Products, Ericsson, says: “There has been a lot of encouraging progress in 5G standardization last year including the beginning of live field trials. Big efforts in research and development are key to this and our collaboration with IBM Research on phased array antennas can help operators to effectively deploy radio access infrastructure necessary to support a 5G future. New use cases and applications that span human machine interaction, Virtual Reality, smart home devices and connected cars will depend on innovative technologies that can bring the promises of faster data rates, broader bandwidth and longer battery life to reality.”

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“The development of this 5G millimeterWave phased array is an important breakthrough, not just because of its compact size and low cost, which make it a very commercially attractive solution for network equipment companies and operators, but its potential to unleash and inspire brand new ideas and innovations we haven’t yet imagined, thanks to a fully networked society,” said Dr. Dario Gil, Vice President of Science & Solutions, IBM Research.

Making 5G a Reality

The first release of the 3GPP 5G specification is targeted to be ready by 2017/2018, but there has already been much progress in the industry with field tests and demonstrations of new user experiences and capabilities made possible by the higher bandwidth, lower latency, greater density and lower energy requirements of 5G networks.

5G is expected to support data rates exceeding 10Gbps in certain scenarios. New capabilities are designed to allow users to download a full-length HD movie in seconds, provide very high bandwidth and uninterrupted live streaming experiences in highly dense environments such as sports or concert venues, experience ‘life-like’ response times to enable remote surgery or fully immersive virtual reality experiences, as well as see battery life of 10 years for remote cellular devices that may be part of IoT environments.

 

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