LTE to see MIMO boom ahead of 5G launch

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MIMO deployments on LTE networks are expected to grow rapidly over the next four years as operators prepare their networks for 5G, according to new figures from ABI Research.

The technology, and its more advanced cousin Massive MIMO, is antennae which offer additional transmit and receive streams to minimise errors and increase data speeds.

According to the report, roll-outs of the hardware on 4G networks will more than double to reach nine million worldwide by 2021.

Specifically, installations on LTE and LTE-Advanced Pro networks will grow by nearly 100 percent and nearly 500 percent respectively in the same period.

The biggest growth region for the technology will be Asia-Pacific, where deployments will increase threefold in the same period. By 2021, that region will represent the majority of the overall market.

Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI Research, said MIMO had “not delivered on its promises so far”, although did not elaborate on why, but would be a key building block in 5G, which is expected to see early launches in 2019 and to be standardised in 2020.

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He predicted advanced antenna systems would see “increasing attention and R&D” from both vendors and operators, as well as stimulate acquisitions.

Europe has seen major deployments of MIMO and Massive MIMO this year, with Vodafone leading the charge in a large-scale UK roll-out beginning in June.

T-Mobile Netherlands launched the technology last month in a first for the country, boosting network capacity to 600MBps in Amsterdam.

There have also been trials by other operators including Turkcell, Telekom Austria and Bouygues Telecom.