Swiss carrier Sunrise said it has achieved speeds of up to 3.67 Gbps using 5G technology from Huawei in 100 MHz of C-band spectrum. The high speeds are particularly notable in that the C-band lies between 4 and 8 GHz and is considered mid-band spectrum. Until now, the highest 5G speeds have required high-frequency millimeter wave spectrum.
According to a press release, the speeds were achieved using multiple 5G smartphones in one 5G cell in Zurich. Huawei credits “innovative MU-MIMO technology” for increasing 5G capacity without additional spectrum or power.
MU-MIMO, or multi-user multiple- input multiple-output technology, is already specified in the latest Wi-Fi standards. It uses multiple antennas to minimize the impact of network congestion.
It’s also worth noting that 100 MHz channels are considerably wider in comparison with what the wireless industry has traditionally used, although some carriers already have made limited 5G deployments using 100 MHz channels or wider and others expect to move in that direction.
One recent millimeter wave spectrum auction in the U.S. included licenses that were 100 MHz wide and another included licenses throughout a portion of the U.S. that included 425 MHz of spectrum.
The news about 5G performance in the C-band comes at a time when stakeholders continue to debate the fate of spectrum in that band that is currently in the hands of satellite operators who use it primarily for video content distribution. It is widely believed that the satellite operators no longer need all the spectrum for which they hold licenses, but how excess spectrum should be reassigned is a matter of considerable controversy.
A group of satellite operators wants to handle an auction of a portion of the C-band and share the proceeds with the government, arguing that this would be the fastest way to make the spectrum available. Others argue that the FCC should conduct the auction.
Also unresolved is how much spectrum the satellite operators can spare.
The news about Sunset’s and Huawei’s achievement also comes at a time when the U.S. policymakers are considering banning Huawei equipment from U.S. communications networks out of concerns that the Chinese manufacturer could use the equipment to spy on the U.S.
It’s not clear how unique Huawei’s 5G technology is, however. Potentially other manufacturers have the ability achieve similar speeds.