New mMIMO Product Launches from All Equipment Vendors at MWC23, Hinting at Future Energy Saving Features

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1Q 2023 | IN-6861

Radio Access Network (RAN) vendors have introduced their next generation of 5G massive Multiple-Input Multiple-output (mMIMO) radios at MWC23 with enhanced performance and energy efficiency. The new radios are designed with a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered energy efficiency features to help reduce carbon footprint of mobile network and drive towards net zero. Energy saving and performance mechanisms of mMIMO are expected to be further enhanced through the implementation of further advanced AI algorithms in future generations.

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Equipment Vendors Launch New 5G Energy-Efficient mMIMO at MWC23


Mobile World Congress 2023 kicked off on 27 February, 2023, with big announcements from RAN vendors. Traditional RAN vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, and ZTE have continued their efforts to improve network capabilities in multiple dimensions and help mobile operators maximize the value of their investments in 5G. Ericsson introduced an ultra-wideband mMIMO, AIR 6476 with 600 MHz IBW and 400 Watts (W) output power, delivering double network capacity with no additional antenna footprint. Nokia redefined mMIMO performance with the launch of its latest generation of AirScale mMIMO powered by ReefShark System-on-Chip (SoC), Habrok, covering all mMIMO use cases and deployment scenarios for all mobile operator and enterprise networks. Chinese equipment vendor Huawei launched its new Meta Active Antenna Unit (AAU) with 384 antenna elements and deliver 320 W output power, achieving Zero Bit Zero Watt in deep dormancy. ZTE also launched an extremely large antenna array AAU with 384 antenna elements, however, the number of transceiver channels are doubled to 128TR.

Open RAN vendor Mavenir released its new generation of OpenBeam mMIMO 32TRX AAU, with 192 antenna elements and a delivery of 320 W output, supporting single operator and RAN sharing scenarios. This new OpenBeam mMIMO AAU is designed with a focus on AI–powered energy efficiency features, helping reduce the carbon footprint of mobile networks.

New mMIMO Achieves Energy Consumption of Less Than 10 W While Delivering Superior Performance


Many vendors have upgraded their product portfolio to achieve lighter weight, smaller form factor, and higher performance, though energy efficiency has become the top factor for competition.

Huawei: Huawei’s New MetaAAU combines advanced hardware and software like Extremely Large Antenna Array (ELAA) and Adaptive High Resolution (AHR), delivers 800 MHz bandwidth, and covers full C-band due to breakthroughs in ultra-wideband Radio Frequency (RF) modules, power amplification, and algorithms. This new ELAA-upgraded MetaAAU can yield the same coverage with 50% less energy consumption and achieve zero bit zero watt in deep dormancy with energy consumption of less than 10 W. Additionally, there are three major intelligent functions for the RAN: iPowerstar, iHashband, and iFaultcare. Test results reveal that iPowerstar can double energy saving compared to conventional solutions, iFaultcare can increase trouble efficiency by 40%, and iHashband can improve user experience by 30%.

ZTE: ZTE launched an ELAA AAU that has 128 transceiver channels in the sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz) with capacity and coverage boost to support the growing capacity demand in dense urban areas. With ZTE’s new architecture and innovative Adaptive Accurate Efficient (AAE) algorithm, this 128TR AAU can expand coverage by 3dB and it is capable of 24 uplink data streams and 32 downlink data streams, based on field test and simulation results. The cell average throughput and user experience at the edge can also be vastly improved, with a cell peak throughput of 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps), resulting in downlink and uplink edge user experience improvement of 72% and 115%, respectively.

Ericsson: The new mMIMO radios are powered by next generation Ericsson Silicon, enabling less power-consuming multi-band, footprint-reducing, and wideband capabilities. To achieve maximum energy saving and enhanced performance, there are three new features: Booster Carrier Sleep, Interference Sensing, and Intelligent Cell Shaping. Booster Carrier Sleep is a key enabler for energy efficiency by creating more opportunities for radio deep sleep and cell sleep to be activated autonomously based on traffic demand, leading to 94% less energy consumed at low traffic compared to peak traffic. Inference Sensing minimizes inter-cell inferences and can result in up to 40% more network capacity. Intelligent Cell Shaping software can enhance coverage through intelligent automation, provide more precise cell shapes that matches user distribution, reduce inter-cell interference, improve capacity, and load balancing with up to 35% higher cell edge speed.

Nokia: Nokia’s latest AirScale mMIMO Habrok is designed for network performance and complete spectrum flexibility. Powered by the new generation of ReefShark SoC, it is 30% lighter than its predecessors and able to reduce energy consumption by 30% with a combination of hardware, software, and services. The services include a range of digital innovations in design, deploy, and care services that support the life cycle of a network. Nokia’s digital design for energy efficiency and related suite of software features can enable a 36% saving in energy consumption.

Mavenir: Mavenir’s new generation of OpenBeam 32T32R mMIMO features the Qualcomm QRU100 5G RAN platform. This product is designed to meet the demand for high-performance and high-efficient networks, supporting fast-growing data traffic for both single operator and RAN sharing scenarios. It uses AI-based technology to achieve industry-leading energy efficiency levels and improve network performance to help simplify 5G deployments while enabling lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The AI-based energy efficiency feature is Mavenir’s key component to help reduce carbon footprint.

Where Will They be Deployed?


5G rollout is taking place at a challenging macroeconomic period, including COVID-19, supply chain and geopolitical restrictions, increased inflation, and skyrocketing energy cost in Europe caused by Russia-Ukraine war. As 5G RAN consumes about 80% of the total energy usages in the global network, the new energy-efficient mMIMO will be very welcoming to the industry.

The radios are designed to have a global reach, meaning network operators can be deployed on new sites that does not have a mMIMO or on existing sites that seeking to modernize their network. However, the actual deployments depend on available spectrum, regional needs, and restrictions. Nokia will make their first version to be available in the band n78 (3.5 GHz), a widely used band globally. Additional products will then be developed to cover other bands for different regional needs. The Ericsson wideband mMIMO is particularly well suited for the US where there is second trench of spectrum, i.e., C-band and Department of Defense (DoD) band, and markets like Middle East, Australia, South Korea, and Canada where there is 3.4-3.8 GHz and with extensions to 3.8-4 GHz. It is also well positioned for network sharing in markets with 400 MHz allocations, i.e., the EU. Due to political constraint, Huawei and ZTE may mainly ship their new mMIMO in Asia-Pacific and Middle East. In fact, ZTE’s 128 TR AAU is expected to be deployed soon in China for field verification.

Although the traditional RAN vendors have shown huge efforts to enhance product performance and energy efficiency, vendor lock-in still restricts innovation at some level. The telecom industry needs more solutions based on Open RAN to give network operators more flexibility in choosing suppliers and become more profitable. A recent report from ABI Research indicated that Open RAN is more energy efficient in the baseband processing domain, has great potential on energy cost saving for dense mMIMO deployments due to new types of innovation, and the promise of further improvements in RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) in the long term. A group led by Vodafone also successfully demonstrated that Open RAN helps to reduce energy consumption by 9%-12% during high and low traffic scenarios at Global PlugFest Spring 2022. Therefore, network operators should consider deployment Open RAN for their new sites to take advantage of the benefits it brings. Mavenir’s Open RAN mMIMO fills in an important gap in the market, with their OpenBeam mMIMO likely to be deployed in the US, Europe (supported by Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and VMO2), and India.