At the beginning of 2014 we posted an article explaining how 5G is not just a buzzword; for researchers and engineers working with leading R&D centers, 5G is a current, real challenge to face

[1]. This is why NTT Docomo’s recent announcement regarding 5G experimental trials to be conducted with six telecom vendors makes us happy [2]. The aim of these experiments is to confirm the ability of 5G to exploit frequency bands above 6 GHz, to increase system capacity per unit area, and to propose new radio technologies for supporting diverse types of applications (including machine-to-machine, or M2M, services).

The parallel collaboration between NTT Docomo and the six vendors is divided as follows:

Vendor Type of experiments
Alcatel-Lucent Candidate waveforms to support mobile broadband and M2M
Fujitsu Coordinated scheduling for super-dense base stations using remote radio heads (RRH)
NEC Time-domain beamforming with a very large number of antennas (5 GHz Band)
Ericsson New radio interface concepts and massive multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) (15 GHz Band)
Samsung Super-wideband hybrid beamforming and beam tracing (28 GHz Band)
Nokia Super-wideband single carrier transmission and beamforming (70 GHz)

Table 1: Division of experiments in 5G trials 

Nutaq offers solutions for algorithm research and real-time design, be it for massive MIMO, cognitive radio, mmWave technology, or new PHY/MAC layer concepts. We want to make sure that our clients focus on the most important part of their work – algorithm exploration and verification.

Nutaq’s recent announcement of its partnership with the University of Sherbrooke to develop a massive MIMO reference design [3] [4] is major step towards, not only by providing the world with a (so far) unbeaten massive MIMO testbed [5], but with intellectual property (IP) functional blocks for users to use as starting points in their own designs. The beauty behind this system is that you can start exploring massive MIMO with our 3.8 GHz RF front-ends, with the possibility to scale the system to handle millimeter waves. Thanks to its MicroTCA.4-based rear transition modules (RTMs) and central processing unit, the system can scale from a single powerful Virtex-6 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) to clusters of eight Virtex-6s per board, thus ensuring future algorithm development will not be limited by the hardware. Moreover, to offload as much processing as possible, the platform supports a mesh topology, enabling researchers the flexibility to aggregate and process subgroups of channels before they reach the central processing engine.

Our 5G system roadmap is depicted in the following figure [6]. You can see that the evolution towards mmWaves, with an above 100 MHz bandwidth, will be supported. Thanks to the scalability of the system and the replaceable FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) based RF front-ends, you have a smooth migration path while maximizing the amount of retained hardware (80% of initial investment).

You can learn more about the Titan MIMO-4 Massive MIMO Testbed here.  If you interested in learning more about massive MIMO technology, see our seven-part series [7].

Furthermore, I cordially invite you to join our group on LinkedIn called Towards 5G [8]. Here you can share your ideas, opinions, and expertise with researchers working on new and novel concepts for future wireless systems.


[1] Towards 5G – Introduction[2] DOCOMO to Conduct 5G Experimental Trials with six leading mobile technology vendors[3] Nutaq Partners With University of Sherbrooke on Massive MIMO Reference Design[4] Nutaq partnership to develop a massive MIMO reference design[5] TitanMIMO-4 Massive MIMO Testbed[6] 5G Migration Strategy of Nutaq’s TitanMIMO-4 Massive MIMO Testbed[7] Massive MIMO Tutorial[8] Towards 5G LinkedIn Group – join now!