Ericsson launches 3 new radios for mid-band 5G

Just as the U.S. awaits news about who got what in the C-band auction, Ericsson is announcing new radios designed to accelerate operators’ mid-band deployments for 5G around the world.

The radios were designed from the ground up to work primarily on operators’ existing sites, whether that be rooftops or towers, according to Sibel Tombaz, head of 5G Highband and Active Antenna Systems at Ericsson.

The AIR 6419 and 3219 radios support the 3.4-3.6 GHz and the AIR 3258 works at 3.4-3.8 GHz. A spokesman said the products announced today do not currently support C-band in the U.S. but will in the future.

Often referred to as the “sweet spot” for 5G spectrum, mid-band spectrum offers both coverage and capacity. Coupled with Massive MIMO, it’s poised to be a game-changer, according to Ericsson.

The new radios support both stand-alone (SA) 5G and non-standalone (NSA) deployments and can be used in urban, suburban and rural areas, Tombaz said. At 20 kilos each, or about 44 pounds, the radios are 45% lighter than the previous generation and 20% more energy efficient.

Ericsson also announced six new products in its RAN Compute portfolio, including indoor and outdoor options for 4G expansions and mid-band 5G rollouts, with up to 50% higher throughput and 15-20% lower energy consumption.

These latest additions to Ericsson’s Massive MIMO and RAN Compute portfolios are powered by Ericsson silicon with an architecture design that provides the Massive MIMO radios with real-time channel estimation and ultra-precise beamforming, the company said.

“How you do the beamforming is extremely important for what you get out of the radio,” Tombaz added. Using Ericsson silicon gives it the unique ability of having more processing in the radio to access real-time information. “All these pieces allow us to get the best beamforming with instant information about the channel.”

Massive MIMO, which stands for Multiple Input, Multiple Output, consists of multiple antenna arrays and spatial diversity to create multiple transmission channels for faster data throughput to individual users.

'Turning point' for 5G 

According to ABI Research, these announcements from Ericsson are a “huge turning point” and boost for the much sought-after ubiquitous 5G.

“Traditionally, the sheer weight of Massive MIMO antennas and their extensive energy-consumption have been major barriers to their adoption. Ericsson has addressed that with products that are much slimmer, up to 45% lighter, and 20% more energy efficient,” said Johanna Alvarado, senior analyst at ABI Research, in a statement.

“This is an important development that will stimulate the adoption of Massive MIMO technology and will no doubt help operators lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) by reducing the installation cost, their site occupancy, and energy bill all while improving overall network performance," Alvarado said.

ABI Research expects shipments of Massive MIMO radios to grow from 1.8 million in 2020 to a whopping 7.7 million in 2026, representing almost 30% of the global cell site footprint by 2026.