Vodafone and Huawei have completed trials of microwave-based backhaul for 5G which show the technology can handle the high volume of data that next generation networks will generate.
Lab tests demonstrated the capacity and latency that can be achieved using a traditional IP microwave link, with 2.7Gbps speeds and 50 microsecond latency possible from a single transmission aggregating 2 x 112MHz channels in a vertical polarisation.
This is the first time that a single radio frequency (RF) unit has been able to achieve 2Gbps from a single polarisation (in this case, vertical polarisation).
Engineers now want to see if it’s possible to reach 4Gbps from a single box using dual polarisation. This means the RF unit can respond to both horizontal and vertical radio waves simultaneously, increasing capacity, reducing the physical size of the system and reducing costs.
Adding strength to the argument for IP microwave backhaul is that it works with high capacity microwave links that have already been deployed commercially, such as E-Band and Multi-Band, the latter of which is a combination of E-Band and IP microwave.
Vodafone also plans to explore how to increase the distance that both bands can transmit.
“These tests demonstrate the feasibility of utilising microwave technology, as well as fibre, for effective 5G backhaul,” said Eva Rossi, head of transport product for the Vodafone Group. “As such, the results of this test are extremely positive for Vodafone as we prepare for the launch of commercial 5G services in the years ahead.
The first commercial 5G networks are expected to arrive 2019, offering high capacity, low latency and gigabit speeds.