5g radioOn your mark, set, go! The race for 5G is well underway, even though true widespread commercial availability isn’t expected until 2020 or beyond. That’s not stopping Ericsson from announcing what they claim to be is the first commercially available 5G radio.

The next generation of wireless, 5G, aims to deliver significant improvement in wireless broadband access, even providing gigabit type speeds. But 5G standards haven’t been finalized yet and there is still much work to do (and much debate about what exactly 5G is).

Ericsson says their 5G New Radio (NR), the AIR 6468, will soon be in production, with delivery set for 2017.

“Together with the Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins announced in June and Ericsson’s already commercially available Radio System Baseband 5216, which currently powers Ericsson’s award-winning Radio Test Bed, Ericsson is first to deliver all components of a 5G access network,” Ericsson boldly predicts in a press release.

Ericsson 5G Radio
According to Ericsson, the radio is 4G LTE compliant, but will also ship ready for beamforming Massive MIMO and Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) 5G technology. Additional details provided by Ericsson include:

  • Three new radios support Gigabit speeds for LTE and provide further flexibility in design: Radio 4407 and Radio 4412 enable 4×4 MIMO in one radio unit for FDD and TDD mode respectively, and Radio 8808 for advanced TDD beamforming applications
  • Addressing both the need for unlicensed spectrum options and the growing emphasis on small cells is the Radio 2205, a micro solution on unlicensed spectrum that is fully integrated in Ericsson Radio System, using the same baseband and network management
  • Two new baseband units support the growing need for densification: the outdoor micro Baseband 6502 and macro Baseband 6303 with Ericsson Rail System mounting for flexible site builds
  • Addressing interference issues in dense builds, Baseband P614 enables new band activation on challenging sites by mitigating Passive Inter Modulation, referred to as PIM mitigation, from static and dynamic sources both inside and outside the antenna system
  • Spectrum optimization is a growing need and Uplink Spectrum Analyzer is an Ericsson-unique software solution to remotely identify external interference without the need for costly measurement equipment and site visits
  • Exclusive to Ericsson is instant power sharing, used in the wideband Radio 2242. This capability allows power to be instantly shared between carriers, standards and bands, optimizing the use of radio resources
  • Cloud RAN will be an important 5G network architecture and Baseband C608 provides high-performance switching in Elastic RAN deployments

The Ericsson announcement is sure to heat up the 5G hype machine, as I suspect Ericsson competitors will soon respond with their 5G solution roadmap. We should expect a flurry of 5G announcements in the coming months.

The 5G reality though suggests at least a couple of years before we see true 5G momentum. Early 5G indications also suggest that fixed wireless, delivering wireless broadband to homes and businesses, will be the first commercial application for 5G, with mobile 5G to follow.