Chinese equipment vendor ZTE have completed pre-commercial field trials of what it claims is the world’s first pre-5G 3D/Massive Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output (MIMO) base stations in partnership with China Mobile. In its press release, ZTE noted that the base stations have a much higher Physical Downlink Shared Channel (PDSCH) beam forming gain and that the test showed ‘excellent’ coverage enhancement for tall buildings, and improved indoor reception. Further, the vendor claims that 3D/Massive MIMO and multi-antenna technology can improve wireless spectrum efficiency ‘exponentially’ as well as improving network coverage and system capacity. ZTE went on to stress its commitment to the research and development of 5G products, with one official adding that the supplier would ‘continue to deliver pre-5G features to offer 5G-like experience before 5G standardisation.’
Huang Yuhong, vice president of the China Mobile Research Institute commented on the trials that the technology: ‘Will definitely accelerate the pace of qualification and commercial deployment and reinforce the advantages of TDD (Time Division Duplex) technology. China Mobile will continue to strengthen our partnership with ZTE in the development of 3D/Massive MIMO and other 5G technologies.’
In a related development, China Mobile has registered a dip in 3G subscriptions for the first time, with 3G customers dipping from 244.46 million in September to 242.89 million as at 31 October. The fall can largely be attributed to customers migrating to 4G services, with growth in that space accelerating and outstripping previous expectations. Mobile claimed 54.45 million 4G subscribers at the end of October 2014, up from 30.95 million in September and 29.57 million in August. The cellco has previously targeted 50 million 4G users by the end of 2014, before shifting its goal to 70 million, but at its current rate of expansion, it is likely to pass that milestone by the end of November.