Massive MIMO 20 MHzTDD Massive MIMO is already going wide at SoftBank Japan, yielding a 4x-10x capacity improvement on a single channel. Eric Zhao believes Massive MIMO is often the right choice where you need high capacity. Zhao finds early 32 antenna system averaging 450% more capacity in a single band. Many leading engineers agree MM is the way to go.

Worldwide, chief technologists are enthusiastic about Massive MIMO. At Huawei's MBB Forum, Hidebumi Kitahara of SoftBank confirmed the reported results, especially in crowded cells. Later in the day, Huang Yuhong of China Mobile also reported success. Her performance improvement estimates were "only" 3x, but it's early days for the technology.  At SoftBank owned Sprint, Günther Ottendorfer reports a 10x improvement. Sanyogita Shamsunder of Verizon a year ago told me, "We must have massive MIMO." Nasser Al Nasser of Saudi Telecom in the release below reports a 6x improvement.

The varying estimates correspond to the varying performance of MIMO. MIMO results are drastically different depending on the terrain. They will go up. There are dozens of ideas how Massive can be improved, many still just technical journal articles. There's plenty of room to improve before reaching the Shannon Law limits.

 Where the demand isn't that high, Zhao recommends 4x4 MIMO. Qualcomm is promoting "4x4 Everywhere." Huawei is now shipping systems with four antennas that average 40% to 75% more capacity than two antenna systems. They also offer an interesting alternative, an eight antenna system optimized for phones with two antennas. deploying at Viva in Kuwait Four antenna phones are just beginning and there won't be many in the field for a while. 

You can add capacity with more sites (small cells,) antennas (MIMO,) spectrum, software (256 QAM,) and improvements to all of the above SASSi,  As I write in April 2017, most carriers are adding carrier aggregation (spectrum,) 4x4 MIMO (antennas,) and 256 QAM (software.) Together, they can deliver close to a gigabit peak. 

Looking forward, CTOs seem to be looking most at Massive MIMO or small cells, including 5G.



Apr 02, 2017


As the first operator in the Middle East and North Africa, STC announces the successful experiment of Massive MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) technology on its existing 4G-LTE network, utilizing 2.3GHz spectrum band. 
In its ambitious testing in Dammam, STC used 20MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band on the TDD network. It managed to achieve a peak cell downlink throughput of 677Mbps, which is approximately six times the current/traditional TDD network speed. 
Massive MIMO is accepted as one of the core innovative technologies in the future 5G network. This concept has been used by STC and Huawei to boost the existing 4G LTE network throughputs, in order to provide superior customer experience and unprecedented network speeds. Massive MIMO technology uses a large number of antennas and beam forming to enhance spectrum utilization among multiple user equipment (UEs) to improve end user experience. 
Eng. Nasser Al Nasser, SVP, STC Technology & Operations, said: “Once again, STC’s partnership with Huawei delivers new and unprecedented results. This great result will in no doubt enable STC to meet the explosive growth in demand for high-quality data services. We look forward to strengthening our pioneering position in the region through successful deployment of the Massive MIMO technology. As a technology pioneering company in the region, STC is proud to see such successful network developments, which will ultimately translate to improved customer experience and delivery of highest possible quality of service.”



dave askFeb 2018 Verizon $20B 5G build is on for adding customers in 2018. Gigabit LTE, 5G Massive MIMO became real in 2017. China, Japan, Korea, and Verizon U.S. 5G are firm, with heavy investment expected 2019-2021. The goal: Closer to the truth. 

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor. I always want to hear from you, especially if I make a mistake.