All three of India’s top mobile networks — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio — are currently conducting trials of a key 5G technology that makes use of a very high number of antennas to increase the capacity of the network, David An, the technology head of ZTE said today.

“Today we are very glad to announce we are going to do Massive MIMO trial with Airtel, Vodafone and RJio,” An said.

Airtel expects the capacity of its 2300 MHz network to increase 5-7 times with the deployment of the technology.

ZTE and Huawei are more advanced in developing the technology. ZTE implemented Massive MIMO on a large scale last year in Japan and China.


“ZTE is the only vendor to do pre-5G Massive MIMO trial with all the three major operators in India. We are bringing the latest technology to the Indian market to meet mobile broadband requirements,” he added.

ZTE, based in China, has an advantage in this technology that China was at the forefront of time-based division of radio signal technology. Other countries like the US focused on frequency-based division.

However, TDD has turned out to be more suitable for carrying heavy data workloads. It has been incorporated more heavily into the 5G roadmap — at least initially — compared to FDD or frequency division duplex.

MIMO, short for multiple in multiple out, refers to the use of more than one transmission point. While in 4G, the MIMO points are usually 2-4, in Massive MIMO, dozens or even hundreds of points can be employed by the network, thus reusing the same spectrum multiple times.

5G technology

“The essence of 5G technology is Massive MIMO, At ZTE, we already started the commercial deployment in 2016,” he said.

Mumbai and Bangalore like cities are likely deploying this technology. This will cause the issues of congestion, in coming days.

Previous generation technologies had abrupt boundaries between them but the ransition from 4G to 5G will be gradual. Operators are likely to deploy essential elements of 5G as soon as they become available.

The reason for the gradual approach is the increasing ‘programmability’ of base station electronics and the dependence of such equipment on the software. Upgrading the software, can give new capabilities to a software based equipment rather than purely hardware based equipment.

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