Nokia’s trials highlight fixed/mobile nature of 5G

Converged network tests with Sonera achieve 10Gbps, while Bell Labs pushes Shannon’s Limit with new modulation over optical fiber

In the progress towards 5G, fixed technologies have to be considered alongside mobile standards, far more than in previous generations. Nokia is providing hints of a converged future with two announcements, a demonstration in the 4.5 GHz band with Telia’s Finnish subsidiary Sonera; and more futuristically, a test of optical technology by its Bell Labs R&D unit, which approached the Shannon’s limit.

In Finland, Nokia and Sonera unified fixed and mobile technologies to reach peak data throughput speeds of 4.5Gbps. The trial, at the operator’s Helsinki base, used commercial Nokia AirScale base stations with a customized core.

The data rate and low latency of the network enabled the triallists to label it ‘5G’. Among the tests was transmission of high resolution video footage from Nokia’s OZO professional virtual reality camera. This mobile network test reached speeds of over 4.5Gbps.

On the fixed side, the tests were based on Nokia’s XG-Fast broadband technology, which reached speeds of 10Gbps over existing copper cables. An evolution of the standard, these copper-based technologies are of high interest to MNOs for small cell backhaul as well as converged access.

“The world is going mobile and mobile is going fixed,” said Tommi Uitto, SVP of global product sales at Nokia Mobile Networks, in a statement. “5G is just around the corner, and we’re making it happen.”

In July, Nokia and Sonera signed a cooperation pact aimed at accelerating the latter’s road to 5G.

Meanwhile, in Munich, Germany, Bell Labs worked with Deutsche Telekom and the Technical University of Munich to achieve terabit speeds over optical fiber. In the centenary year of Claude Shannon, the partners pushed his best known theory, the Shannon Limit, to the extreme, using a technology called ‘probabilistic constellation shaping’ (PCS), which uses QAM to boost transmission capacity in a channel.

The Shannon Limit, developed at Bell Labs by Shannon in 1948, refers to the theoretical maximum information transfer rate of a communications channel for a particular noise level.

To push that limit further, the modern day Bell Labs scientists say they have achieved “unprecedented transmission capacity and spectral efficiency” in an optical communications field trial with modulation technique. They say their new technique allows the transmission rate to be tailored to fit the channel optimally, extending reach by up to 30%.

“Future optical networks not only need to support orders of magnitude higher capacity, but also the ability to dynamically adapt to channel conditions and traffic demand,” said Marcus Weldon, president Nokia Bell Labs and Nokia CTO. “PCS offers great benefits to service providers and enterprises by enabling optical networks to operate closer to the Shannon Limit to support massive data center interconnectivity and provide the flexibility and performance required for modern networking in the digital era.”

The experiment was conducted as part of the Safe and Secure European Routing (SASER) project of the Celtic-Plus group (a member of the pan-European EUREKA research and development network).

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