LTE with “massive MIMO” shows 5x throughput

Blue Danube (Santa Clara, Calif.) is on a mission to boost the capacity of LTE wireless communications by the use of beam forming to support more sectors around a basestation. This could, in theory, provide much greater spectrum re-use and capacity, without going to higher frequencies and higher complexity of 5G communications. The trials have demonstrated a 20X increase in dynamic throughput for enhanced video user experience the company said. 

Since its formation in 2013, the company has raised about $23 million. The CEO is Mark Pinto, a former vice president and fellow of Bell Labs and executive vice president of Applied Materials.

The trials were conducted using Blue Danube’s BeamCraft 500 active antenna product for advanced 3D beamforming, which is capable of delivering a record 160W of transmit power for a massive MIMO system. The 96 element BeamCraft 500 is based on an active antenna system driven by a mixed-signal ASIC that focuses signal energy where it is needed, allowing wireless carriers to better serve high demand areas and minimize interference zones. About 10Tbytes of data were transmitted and monitored over a three-month period.

The BeamCraft unit is retrofitted to existing antenna and showed an improvement of 2X to 5X in throughput for users in high traffic demand areas for the same transmit power as the legacy installation. Additionally, users received up to 20X improvement in instantaneous video throughput and experienced smooth 1080p HD videos in locations where existing systems were stalling. A second phase of trials is now ongoing to test additional operational modes and traffic scenarios.

Blue Danube is also developing products for additional spectrum bands and TDD (Time Division Duplex) LTE operation to support several trials in Europe, Australia and North America in the first half of 2017.

“Massive MIMO opens up a new way to boost capacity in mobile telecom, by using the spatial dimension and multiple antennas to create multiple paths that re-use spectrum more effectively. Instead of waiting for 5G, mobile operators are upgrading thousands of TD-LTE base stations with massive MIMO this year,” said Joe Madden, founder and principal analyst at Mobile Experts, in a statement issued by Blue Danube.

Blue Danube Systems is backed by investors including Sequoia Capital, Northgate and AT&T.

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