Aussie rules with world record for 5G mmWave long-range transmission

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The technology trial paves the way for additional tools to optimise performance and customer experience on nbn’s fixed wireless network.

Australia’s nbn has achieved a world record for long-range 5G transmission using mmWave as it develops ways to optimise the performance and customers’ experience of the nbn Fixed Wireless network.

At a live test in an nbn proof of concept site near Mortlake, Victoria, nbn and Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies and Casa Systems, created a stable 5G mmWave transmission of close to 1Gbps at a distance of 7.3km.

This is double the distance recorded at the site three months ago, and a new world record. nbn anticipates further testing to attain longer ranges in future.

mmWave innovation

nbn is exploring 5G technology operating in mmWave spectrum to evolve the Fixed Wireless network, which covers more than 620,000 premises across regional and rural Australia with more than 90% of customers within 7.3km of a Fixed Wireless cell.

The field measurements will provide development guidance for wireless technology suppliers and help nbn understand the most cost-effective, and spectrum-efficient ways to integrate 5G into its evolving network architecture.

nbn invests around $200 million (€128 million) annually on optimising the Fixed Wireless network within finite spectrum and resource limitations.

Under initiatives already implemented, the Fixed Wireless network has spectral efficiency levels above 4bps/Hz in the downlink and 1.6bps/Hz in the uplink, challenging global benchmarks of the highest performing 4G networks.

Measuring performance

nbn’s own performance benchmarking shows that 99.9% of Fixed Wireless network cells and 100.0% of Fixed Wireless backhaul links are performing at or above their design thresholds.

nbn anticipates continuing innovation on the 4G platform to improve the average and peak user speeds to complement targeted 5G implementation in future.

Working with its technology partners, nbn’s optimisation initiatives include:
•    Wider deployment of carrier aggregation to improve load balancing across available spectrum and enhance single user data rates.
•    Introduction of advanced antenna technologies such as multi-beam wideband antennas, Massive MIMO, multi-user MIMO and coordinated multipoint transmission to improve spectrum efficiency and reduce interference while driving down the cost per bit to accommodate greater traffic growth.
•    Optimisation of end user radio conditions, actively balancing user profiles and reducing the average number of users per cell to achieve increased data rates for users. Following a 20% increase in the number of active cells in the last twelve months, there are currently 19 users per cell on average, a reduction from historical levels of around 60.
•    Introduction of new high-capacity backhaul solutions, including increasing penetration of fibre and additional traffic engineering capability to improve uptime and reduce congestion.
•    Increased deployment of advanced end user equipment for wider support of advanced radio features, enhancing individual user experience as well as increasing network spectral efficiency³.