Friday 9 July 2021

NEC's O-RAN Compliant Massive MIMO Radios

NEC has recently started receiving recognition and the attention is deserves for its massive MIMO radio units and other 5G infrastructure. Back at MWC 2019, they was already showing showing their O-RAN compliant Open RAN radio units (see tweet below)

Just in time for MWC 2021, NEC announced the launch of new radio units (RU) for 5G base stations that are geared for global markets and are scheduled to be available in 2022. Their press release said:

In terms of functionality, the new RUs will be compatible with the n77, n78 and C-Band 3.7GHz frequency band (3.3-4.2GHz), which is globally used as a 5G frequency. In addition, ultra-multi-element antennas utilizing Massive MIMO (*) and digital beamforming for high-precision beams will help to provide high-speed, high-capacity communications between a wider range of terminals. Also, the new RUs will feature higher output and wider bandwidth when compared to conventional products, thereby expanding the communications area and providing high-speed transmission. NEC's proprietary high-density mounting technology, power saving technology, and fanless design will also enable a compact format that is lightweight and power efficient.

The RUs will conform to O-RAN fronthaul interface specifications defined by the O-RAN Alliance and will be compatible with base station equipment from different vendors, making it possible to realize open, flexible and optimized networks according to a wide range of use cases.

At the MWC 2021 Virtual Stand, NEC was boldly showing off their O-RAN Compliant 5G Radio Units. Their product features include:

  • Full Digital Beamforming to Improve Customer Experience: AAS(Active Antenna System) improves the radio quality and realizes stable quality of service by Full Digital Beamforming
  • Sub6GHz Massive MIMO AAS for Macro Cells: Best suited for optimizing coverage and capacity in dense population areas. Can also be utilized as an “in-building” solution by horizontally penetrating the beam into buildings.
  • mmWave Massive MIMO AAS for Small Cells: Designed to be compact and light weight easing installation and expanding site options, and also reducing operational cost with its low power consumption feature.

With so many new hardware players emerging as a result of Open Networks, it remains to be seen if NEC is able to make most of its Massive MIMO leadership.

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