Mix of 5G spectrum assets leading to operator-specific approach to venue eMBB investments

Large venues like transportation hubs, arenas and stadiums have long been a focus of carrier investment not just to meet ever-increasing mobile data demands but also to showcase technological advances. The recent Super Bowl, marked by massive investments in 5G network and services, continued this trend but in a very new way that emphasizes how particular mixes of spectral assets informs the strategy for providing 5G in a venue.

Traditional stadium connectivity is often provided by a distributed antenna system–carriers connect a signal source to a shared in-venue infrastructure that distributes that signal. But when you look at Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, the gameday upgrades focused on small cell-type solutions rather than upgrades to the existing DAS.

Verizon and AT&T both provided millimeter wave-based services using small cell deployments and Sprint put its 2.5 GHz spectrum into service using massive MIMO antennas. As Ericsson Senior Product Manager Roger Galuban explained, “Spectrum assets are really influencing the solutions operators are favoring. On the traditional FDD spectrum, sub-2.5 GHz, you have the traditional DAS approach. That’s really where most of the spectrum used to be a couple of years ago. Now, with millimeter wave, that has really changed the game.”

Galuban also drew a straight line between using large public events to showcase 5G and the new experiences it can enable, allows operators to seed the market for future 5G-based service revenues, including in-stadium augmented reality experiences, video multicasting and other applications dependents on high capacity, low latency and high reliability.

“Operators want to showcase the best for their users and that’s really in the small cell space,” Galuban said. “It’s really going to be an operator-specific solution versus the traditional DAS. To get to 1 Gbps, you’ve got to go to millimeter wave. I would say at this point in time, DAS cannot deliver the same experience that small cells do with millimeter wave spectrum.”

To get perspective on the level of interest carriers have in providing new venue experiences, look at Verizon–in the past few months the operator has deployed millimeter wave-based 5G in 17 NFL stadiums and seven arenas that host NBA and NHL events with plans for further deployment throughout 2020.

As Ericsson works with partners in the U.S. and around the world on 5G for venues, the overall approach is marked by reducing headend footprint and power, ensure that capacity to scale to meet demand, new equipment can co-exist with existing DAS infrastructure, and using software-upgradeability to help make investments flexible as technology evolves.

As venue experiences and the technologies that enable continue to evolve, Ericsson will be in lock-step, Galuban said. “One of the things Ericsson has been looking at in this high-capacity venues is how do we improve, reduce the amount of equipment, and accelerate the time-to-market. This is something we’ve really been working on and understanding better.”

The post Supercharging venue broadband with millimeter wave 5G appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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