Monday, 21 May 2018 12:07

Vodafone launches 4.9G on Huawei in Sydney’s West, more sites to come Featured


Vodafone's first FDD Massive MIMO trial site has gone live in Parramatta, the first of five sites across Australia to act as trial locations for 4.9G, with Sydney's Chinatown and Haymarket to follow, and it's using Huawei technology to make it happen. 

Remember when the world went through 2.5G, 3.5G and even 4.5G?

Now we're hitting 4.9G, which is the 5G you have when you don't yet have 5G, and which serves as a continued evolution until 5G actually arrives. 

Vodafone is using Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output technology on the Frequency Division Duplex 1800MHz spectrum, which it tested in Cronulla last year, as iTWire covered at the time, and to which Vodafone refers in the next sentence. 

The global telco tells us that "FDD band spectrum was first demonstrated for use in Massive MIMO by Vodafone in 2017, where it achieved a cell throughput speed of 717 Mbps across eight devices".

To carry out the demonstration of FDD Massive MIMO, Vodafone reminds us that it "used Huawei’s AAU solution which incorporates 32 small internal radio frequency transceivers that in combination allow 3D control or ‘beam-forming’ of the signals. ‘Beam-forming’ allows radio signals to be shaped and simultaneously directed toward users in both vertical and horizontal directions, creating an increase in network coverage and improved user data speeds".

But back to today's news, where as noted above, Vodafone is testing 4.9G in Parramatta to start with, followed by Sydney’s Chinatown and Haymarket and a total of five trial sites "across Australia" to come in total.

This new trial continues to use Huawei technology, which Vodafone didn't specify in the press release but which we've confirmed with the the company. 

Vodafone chief technology officer Kevin Millroy noted the trial and upcoming rollout of 4.9G means "Vodafone customers will experience the benefits of the exponential increase in capacity which FDD Massive MIMO technology brings", adding, “4.9G is supercharging our network, with customers in 4.9G areas to enjoy a higher quality network experience, smoother streaming, and more consistent speeds, even in times of high usage".

“The trial is another significant step towards 5G and we’ll be rolling out 4.9G to more areas as the year progresses.

“We are focused on continuing to evolve and enhance our 4G network to deliver real benefits to our customers now, while Australians wait for the introduction of 5G to consumers in coming years.

“Vodafone is well on the way to be 5G-ready once compatible spectrum becomes available, with the rollout of our fibre transmission network nearing completion and the on-going project to virtualise our core network.

“From 2016 to 2017, we saw an almost 40% increase in data usage on our network. Data usage has been rising steadily for years and with the introduction of our Unlimited mobile data plans [which are speed limited to 1.5Mbps once the full-speed caps are reached], we don’t expect this to slow down.”

As communications technologies continue to advance and service providers across the globe strive to deliver the best experience to their customers, Vodafone confidently states that "the Massive MIMO market is heading towards a boom".

The company quotes global research firm Research And Markets which estimates "the Massive MIMO market to be worth more than US$20.91 billion by 2026, a compound annual growth rate of 41% between 2018 and 2026".

“The projected growth in the Massive MIMO market indicates the potential and untapped opportunities for the telecommunications industry to improve its network offerings. Rather than focusing on stunts around 5G, Vodafone is investing in technologies that will help deliver real benefits to our customers now.”

The stat comes from Research and Market's "Massive MIMO Market by Technology (LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Pro, 5G), Spectrum (TDD, FDD), Type of Antennas (8T8R, 16T16R & 32T32R, 64T64R, 128T128R & Above), and Geography (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Row) – Global Forecast to 2026, with the report available here

Millroy concluded: “The sites selected for the 4.9G trial are in high-density, high usage areas where we can really exercise the benefits we saw during the field demonstration."

Vodafone says it "will build upon the success of the trial sites by rolling out 4.9G to select sites throughout 2018".

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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