With 5G NR network rollout clearly on the horizon, network operators worldwide are planning pre-commercial network trials. The target is to overcome the challenge of a more demanding and complex air interface and deliver the commercial and technical benefits offered by 5G.
In recent posts about 5G network measurements, we discussed the challenges of and the test solutions for some of the trickier questions about 5G:
- How suitable are the new frequency bands in the range of 3.4 to 4 GHz (and up to mmWave bands) for cellular deployments?
- What coverage can be achieved?
- How do beamforming for synchronization signals and broadcast channels work?
In our recent webinar “5G NR network deployment is now – let’s test”, we examined how to ensure an efficient and predictable 5G NR rollout, identified the technical fundamentals and defined a test approach to deliver the required network performance.
The webinar speakers Arnd Sibila, Technology Marketing MNT, and Manuel Mielke, Product Manager Drive Test Scanners, shared real 5G NR network measurement results of coverage and operation of beamforming from a pre-commercial field trial using 3.7 GHz. By showing real field measurements, we managed to answer even the trickiest 5G deployment questions.
Coverage in 3.7 GHz frequency range
Bearing the higher than normal frequency band in mind, we were surprised at how the 5G NR beamforming capabilities benefit the achievable coverage. In a suburban environment, we could measure an RSRP on the synchronization signals of -125 dBm at 6.5 km distance from the base station. We had expected that 5G NR UEs could connect to base stations at signal levels down to -120 dBm.
In recent posts, we explained the SSB (synchronization signal block) that can carry beam-specific information (SSB index). These “SSB index beams” could be understood as micro sectors that can be realized by antenna arrays on the base station side (e.g., eight micro sectors in one macro sector for the 3.7 GHz case).
This concept enables static beamforming for synchronization signals and broadcast channel information. This means that better coverage can be achieved thanks to the higher antenna gain.
The following picture shows the “micro sectors” very clearly. The outer color layer represents the SSB indices as explained in the color code. For a better overview, we added the colored micro sectors to the screenshot.
Audience and Q&A
The webinar attracted numerous specialists working mainly for leading mobile network operators, regulators, testing service providers, and infrastructure providers. Participants and registrants came from many countries in all continents (North and South America, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Europe).
During the two broadcasts, participants had the opportunity to engage with the speakers in live Q&A sessions. A central part of the Q&A sessions was around the capabilities of our 5G NR network measurement solution that provided the results presented during the webinar. For example, the solution’s multi-technology scanning capability of 5G NR together with LTE, which is necessary for the non-standalone mode of 5G; additional support of mmWave frequencies; and the wide possibilities of viewing various measurement parameters simultaneously.
Many questions were 5G NR technology-oriented. For example, participants wanted to know more about the different modes of SSB beamforming (for synchronization signals and broadcast channel information) as this is a new feature for the mobile industry, and they were keen to learn about the most promising frequency bands. Another Q&A focus concerned the real-field measurements from a pre-commercial 5G NR trial network that we shared during the webinar.
Watch the webinar here.
Rohde & Schwarz is committed to supporting the industry and our customers to be ahead of the competition in 5G by helping to realize their visions.
Recent posts about 5G:
- 5G: the role of mobile network testing on the path to 5G (part 1)
- 5G: initial 5GTF coverage measurements (part 2)
- 5G: first independent 5G test network benchmark study (part 3)
- 5G NR network rollout is now – let’s test! (part 4)
- Spectrum clearance: Prepare your 5G NR spectrum for deployment