Dynamic Spectrum Sharing: The key to unlocking 5G
We caught up with, Wojciech Bajda, head of Ericsson Gulf Council Countries, to find out how Dynamic Spectrum Sharing can help operators fast track the launch of 5G
How can operators use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing to fast track their 5G rollouts?
With 5G networks going live and consumers getting their hands on the first 5G devices, user expectations are high. Communications service providers need to make the best use of their spectrum assets and utilise each band’s performance characteristics to support their business strategies, while maintaining coexistence between all technologies deployed in the network.
Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) is emerging as a key part of mobile service providers’ 5G strategy. Ericsson’s offering in this space offers the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) to launch 5G in bands currently used for 4G – enabling nationwide 5G coverage in short time after launch.
Ericsson Spectrum Sharing allows an existing LTE carrier to operate 5G New Radio (NR) and LTE simultaneously – with a simple software upgrade. Allowing operators to run LTE and NR simultaneously on the same carrier frequencies and base station hardware, the solution is based on innovative intelligent scheduler algorithms that enable optimal performance as the mix of 4G and 5G devices in the network changes over time.
With a simple software installation, ESS offers quick introduction of 5G over a wide area, for all 5G-enabled devices leveraging 4G spectrum and existing Ericsson Radio System infrastructure.
How quick can DSS 5G be? What sort of download speeds can you achieve with spectrum sharing technology?
Ericsson DSS helps operators mitigate the challenge of introduction of 5G in the network without taking away from the 4G spectrum resources. Ericsson DSS software allows dynamic spectrum allocation to 4G and 5G on the same band, dependent on demand. 5G NR carrier aggregation (CA) is used to aggregate the low- and mid-bands to improve mid-band coverage and the overall cell performance.
To further increase capacity or support lower latency cases, 5G is deployed on high bands at locations with these specific requirements (stadiums and other hotspots). Finally, when 5G becomes mainstream, the ultimate goal is for all bands to carry 5G, and we can aggregate them to reach maximum performance and efficiency.
Existing 4G spectrum will smoothly migrate to 5G over time, minimising the impact on 4G as 5G is introduced in the same band. Functions for smooth spectrum migration and combinations (bands and technologies) will be crucial for the planned network evolution
This helps increase the average network speeds, which is critical for the consumers.
Operators will need new spectrum for 5G, not least because its high expectations are fully achieved in the new mid- and high bands.
In millimeter-wave frequencies, with extremely wide bands, operators will achieve 5G’s ultra-high peak rates and low latency. This will create new capacity and throughput levels for mobile broadband, especially as a way of offloading congested 4G networks (and for new special use cases).
But there is also broad interest in deploying 5G technology in new mid-bands (3.5–6GHz), an optimal compromise between coverage, capacity and latency; as well as existing mid-bands (1.8–2.6GHz), to achieve wide 5G coverage as rapidly as possible.
With a simple software update and based on unique, intelligent scheduler algorithms, ESS permits dynamic spectrum allocation to 4G and 5G on the same band.
ESS and inter-band NR carrier aggregation enable a fast introduction of 5G and smooth evolution of 5G networks which maximise the infrastructure usage and spectrum assets. This hands service providers the control to introduce 5G coverage at a pace that suits their business needs.
What are the challenges in implementing DSS solutions? What are the benefits?
DSS is implemented as a software update to the network. With Ericsson DSS operators can get increased coverage with fewer new sites in less time, infrastructure savings and, ultimately, the chance to be the first to have nationwide coverage in an extremely cost-efficient way.
This significantly boosts performance and end-user experience, so that it is not limited to cities and specific locations, such as outdoors, while minimising impact to them.
Ericsson Spectrum Sharing is easy and cost-effective, making the best possible use of existing radio spectrum and, simultaneously, avoiding the painful process of re-farming spectrum in use.
Software bugs are part and parcel of product development. You identify it, fix it, move on. However, what happens when you discover a bug in the 5G specification at the eleventh hour of 3GPP standardisation? And when that very bug can affect performance of a business-critical product by up to 15 percent?
To gauge the scale of the problem, it’s important that you know a little more about the strategic importance of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing as part of the migration story from 4G LTE to stand-alone 5G.
Dynamic Spectrum Sharing is a unique piece of Ericsson innovation and the piece in the puzzle which makes it easier for our customers to be first to market with nationwide 5G coverage through only a single software upgrade. In fact, the technology is so intuitive that it would be easy to overlook the years of complex research and development which went into the product.
Although 5G can use existing spectrum more efficiently than LTE in some cases, improvements in mobile broadband speeds would be constrained by available spectrum. Fortunately, national regulatory agencies around the world have responded to this need.
Are regional governments placing enough importance on spectrum release? What about mmWave spectrum, which has been so successful in delivering high download speeds in the US?
Governments in the Middle East, and particularly the Gulf countries have shown great leadership in releasing spectrum to deploy 5G networks. The historic decision of Arab Spectrum Management Group to harmonise 3.5GHz band for 5G played a pivotal role to spur the deployment of 5G across the Arab countries. However, till now the focus primarily has been towards mid-bands.
There is ongoing for mmWave high bands e.g. 26GHz in several countries and UAE has revealed plans to become one the first countries in the Middle East to use higher radio frequency (mmWave) for 5G.
In addition to the high bands it is important ensure availability of low band spectrum (below 1 GHz e.g. 600,700MHz) to ensure ubiquitous coverage of 4G/5G. Ericsson’s Dynamic Spectrum Sharing can be highly beneficial tool to take full advantage of available spectrum.
Ericsson Spectrum Sharing presents a new way of rolling out 5G as service providers can re-use infrastructure assets, quickly introduce wide area 5G coverage in existing spectrum, increase coverage of mid/high band and shift capex investments from new sites to new 5G use cases.
In addition to being supported by all major chipset vendors, Ericsson Spectrum Sharing is based on 3GPP-defined Dynamic Spectrum Sharing, with added unique Ericsson innovations like intelligent scheduler algorithms and smart coordination of signalling. A blazing millisecond coordination allows for fast and highly efficient dynamic sharing of resources between 5G and 4G for best network performance.
Can Dynamic Spectrum Sharing help to boost indoor coverage as well as outdoor?
Although Mobile Broadband is one of many use case categories supported by 5G, we expect it will be the dominant requirement for initial 5G indoor deployments. In order to enable 5G mobile broadband use cases, there must be sufficient end user bandwidth. Ericsson recommends the following for indoor 5G mobile broadband deployments.
- Wide channel bandwidths (100 MHz)
- Higher order MIMO (e.g. 8x8)
- Coordinated RAN with outdoor network to reduce indoor dominance requirements; indoor and outdoor networks complement each other
- High SINR with “good RF” high throughput
In terms of outdoor, there is often limited network coverage when spectrum is shared with macro sites in dense urban areas. In addition, cost and site permits are limiting street expansion and time to market can be lengthy. Large variations in requirements on size and appearance for street sites exist – solutions need to blend in and not look like network equipment.
What are your predictions for the application of DSS technology across the MEA region? Which markets is it particularly well suited to?
Based on 3GPP-defined tools but taking them even further, ESS includes inimitable Ericsson innovations, such as intelligent scheduler algorithms and smart coordination of 4G/5G signalling, that enable swift introduction of 5G within 4G carriers and existing infrastructure.
This means increased coverage with fewer new sites in less time, infrastructure savings and, ultimately, the chance to be the first to have nationwide coverage in an extremely cost-efficient way.
This significantly boosts performance and end-user experience, so that it is not limited to cities and specific locations, such as outdoors, while minimising impact to them. ESS is easy and cost-effective, making the best possible use of existing radio spectrum and, simultaneously, avoiding the painful process of re-farming spectrum in use.
By leveraging existing low-band radio spectrum, operators can build continuous coverage while avoiding excessive mid-band resource consumption, laying the foundations for a smooth introduction of SA 5G. ESS will completely transform the way 5G is introduced across the world. It will bring 5G to everyone, everywhere, much faster.
What role will AI play in managing those 5G networks?
The advent of 5G is introducing new challenges for mobile communications service providers and integrating artificial intelligence (AI) techniques into networks is one way the industry is addressing these complexities.
AI is already being incorporated into networks, with a primary focus on reducing capital expenditure, optimising network performance and building new revenue streams. It will be vital for improving customer service and enhancing customer experience and help recoup the investments communications service providers (CSPs) are making in their networks to switch to 5G.
It is our belief that AI will pave the way to exciting opportunities for the mobile communications sector, as it can be utilised to create a more personal approach for customers, while helping to manage the costs of deploying and maintaining networks.