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5G coming to indoor small cells

by Martha DeGrasse

Ericsson says it will add 5G capabilities to its Radio Dot indoor small cells this year, and make the solution commercially available in 2019. The company says mobile network operators will not be able to meet indoor coverage needs with 5G outdoor radios. Even today, LTE networks do not offer sufficient coverage in many buildings, and the millimeter wave frequencies that some operators will use for 5G are even less capable of penetrating walls.

Ericsson is promising a 5G indoor small cell by 2019 even though a final 5G standard is not yet in place. Last month, international standards body 3GPP finalized the non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) specification, which uses new 5G modulation schemes for data transmission, but falls back to LTE for the control of that data in the network. Ericsson is highly involved in the development of the 5G standard.

3.5 GHz spectrum for 5G?

This new report provides an explanation of how the CBRS licensing scheme works and how the technical elements of the new band work. This report includes a forecast of the total number of CBRS nodes expected to be deployed in the U.S. through 2022. The forecasted number of nodes is categorized by Outdoor WISP, Outdoor non-WISP, Inside Commercial, and Inside Residential. This report also profiles 33 companies that are part of the CBRS ecosystem.

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The 5G Radio Dot will support frequencies from 3 to 6 GHz. Ericsson said it will deliver up to 2Gbps, and will leverage the same local area network cabling used for existing LTE Radio Dot installations.

The elements of the Radio Dot system are a small, circular ceiling-mounted antenna/radio unit, a contoller, and a baseband unit which modulates and demodulates the signal and connects to backhaul. The controller and baseband hardware can be located together or separated.

Analysts expect to see significant growth in deployments of controller-based small cells, which are seen as an alternative to active distributed antenna systems. Like DAS, controller-based small cells have the potential to cover even the largest office buildings and can support more than one frequency band.

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