The operators have long exceeded the level of ordinary 4G in their LTE networks. Now, base stations that support LTE-Advanced are on the agenda, and the first networks called 4.5G, or LTE-Advanced Pro, are slowly appearing. The next step is 4.9G base stations, also referred to as Pre-5G. They will support Massive MIMO technology, which Qualcomm has been working on for some time now.

Classic LTE works in 2×2 MIMO mode. This means that 2 data antennas are used during data transmission on both the base station and the user terminal side. Thanks to this, 2 transmission channels are created, which allow doubling the data transfer speed in comparison with the solution based on single antennas. The next step is 4×4 MIMO, in which the number of antennas on both sides is increased to 4. Under favourable conditions this gives another doubling of the data transmission speed. An additional advantage of using more is to increase the cell range by improving the quality of the received signal on the so-called the edge of the cell. Operators from particular countries are slowly introducing base stations that support 4×4 MIMO, but this requires installation of additional antennas.

The first base stations serving Massive MIMO are expected to appear next year.

Massive MIMO, which will be used in FDD LTE networks, consists in further increasing the number of antennas on the side of the base station, which will allow for the so-called forming antenna beams. This solution was specified by 3GPP as transmission mode 9. In the currently used solutions, the same signals reach all users located in the same cell (more precisely, the base station sector). However, in the case of Massive MIMO new antennas will be able to handle several beams, each of them will be intended only for one user. Thanks to this, several people will be able to transfer their data at the same time, using the same resources of the base station.

Massive MIMO

Qualcomm carried out the first tests of a prototype smartphone supporting a new data transmission mode with the American Verizon operator. For this purpose, a device with the Snapdragon 845 chipset was used. By the way, we learned that the first smartphones that support Massive MIMO will appear on the market in the first half of next year. Perhaps among them will also Samsung Galaxy S9. Unfortunately, the official communication did not provide information on the amount used during antenna tests. The observed increase in network capacity (i.e. the total data rate for all users) is also unknown.

Source: Verizon Wireless