China Mobile has carried out what it claims is the world's first massive MIMO deployment in Shanghai with Huawei on its LTE network.
Testing has demonstrated downlink throughput of more than 650MBps through a single 20MHZ carrier.
Huawei claimed the tech can improve spectral efficiency fivefold, reducing the need for operators to seek new frequency.
Massive MIMO is a system involving 128 RF channels and 128 antennae, which can be use with all LTE-TDD bands and 4G devices.
Huawei said the deployment showed how Massive MIMO can solve coverage problems. Shanghai has the highest population density in China and the city boasts more than 400 skyscrapers.
A single base station was able to deliver 3D-coverage within a 80 metre tall building, removing the need to deploy multiple cabinets, Huawei claimed.
Massive MIMO is forming a key part of 5G research and development. Last October, SK Telecom teamed up with Samsung to explore a range of potential 5G tech, with small cells and next generation modulation joining massive MIMO.
Huawei and China Mobile will now work on a pilot deployment of a cloud-based core network in China.
The project will mark the debut of NFV in China and will involve the vendor's vIMS.
The "small scale" trial will involve both companies verifying cloud-based networking, technical specifications, the technology's capabilities and maintenance.
In a statement, Huawei said the trial will lead to a larger scale trial and eventual commercial deployment of NFV tech.