Nokia touts 5G C-band trial in Dallas

Nokia isn’t wasting any time getting into the C-band space, saying it reached speeds of over 1 Gbps using its commercial 5G AirScale portfolio at 3.75 GHz in Dallas, Texas.

The Finnish vendor said the drive tests confirmed that Nokia’s solution is ready for commercial deployment ahead of the U.S. C-band spectrum auction in December. It says the C-band is a crucial resource for operators to offer the best mix of 5G network capacity and coverage to subscribers across the U.S.

The demonstration was performed in Dallas’ Cypress Waters neighborhood using Nokia’s AirScale 5G base station equipment. The setup used 100 MHz of spectrum at 3.75 GHz with a 4x4 MIMO and configuration in non-standalone (NSA) mode combined with Nokia’s core network. Nokia said that during drive testing, it monitored network performance and demonstrated that the handovers successfully happened between C-band base stations as expected.  

The FCC has set December 8 as the start date for the C-band auction. While carriers will have a chance to bid on 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum starting in July, the C-band is widely seen as the U.S. wireless industry’s big chance to acquire mostly unencumbered mid-band spectrum for 5G, although it also entails moving satellite companies that are currently in the band. In its press release, Nokia said network deployments are expected in the first half of 2021.

“C-band spectrum will be prime spectrum for providing leading-edge 5G services in the U.S., especially when combined with already deployed network infrastructure and spectrum bands via TDD/FDD Carrier Aggregation and other interworking features,” Nokia stated.

Nokia’s C-band solution is based on its AirScale 5G RF products. Nokia boasts a full portfolio of 3.5 GHz solutions, including 64TRX and 32TRX massive MIMO, as well as 8T8R radios for deployable coverage solutions; 4T4R micro RRH for street level and venue deployments; and indoor pico RRH to for extensive in-building coverage.

Given the preponderance of mid-band spectrum allocated for 5G globally, it’s not surprising that Nokia is already shipping each of these solutions in high volumes to carriers around the world. It says the difference between these global solutions and the solutions needed for the U.S. C-band are the hardware changes needed to match the exact frequency range and country-specific RF requirements.  

“The mobile industry is dependent on the allocation of new spectrum to increase capacity and deliver enhanced mobile broadband services. This test, in the C-band, is significant because it proves that we have a solution ready-to-go following the completion of the spectrum auctions in the U.S. later this year,” said Tommi Uitto, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, in a statement. “We are already working with all major U.S. carriers and look forward to strengthening our relationship with them further by deploying C-band and delivering incredible 5G experiences to business and subscribers across the country.”

The C-band demonstration used Nokia’s AirScale 5G baseband solution. Nokia is also offering U.S. carriers the option of deploying C-band with its 5G AirScale Cloud RAN solution in vRAN2.0 configuration, in which the whole baseband will be in the cloud connected to the radio via an ORAN compliant eCPRI 7.2x interface.