Road to 5G: Huawei, EE Showcase 5G Uplink, Downlink Decoupling in London

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Today at the 8th Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, Huawei showcased a 5G deployment with unique 5G New Radio and LTE co-site deployment to separate uplink and downlink on different bands.

The 5G uplink and downlink (UL/DL) decoupling was demonstrated live for the first time at London ExCel over an end-to-end network.

UL/DL decoupling improves C-band coverage and user experience by using LTE/4G bands to carry 5G uplink data. This is the latest step in the strategic partnership between BT-owned EE and Huawei.

In 5G C-Band deployments uplink coverage can be significantly limited compared to downlink coverage due to higher bands and larger power gaps between sites and terminals. This can cause C-Band uplink coverage to affect user experience.

UL/DL decoupling enables C-Band and 1.8GHz co-site deployment with the same coverage. This concept has the potential to maximize the reach of 5G in C-band to enhance the customer experience and could reduce investment in additional sites.

UL/DL decoupling of 5G has been accepted by 3GPP R15 and 5G uplink and will be standardized in 3GPP R15.

Fotis Karonis, BT TSO, Managing Director, Mobile and Voice Unit said: “We are determined to maximise the potential of 5G for our customers and this first proof of concept with Huawei is an excellent achievement. We have a strong record of collaboration when it comes to developing cutting-edge communications technologies, and we’re pleased to be building on that relationship to pioneer tomorrow’s mobile services.”

Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei 5G product line, said: “In the 5G era, the available bands for operators will increase, and the coverage of higher bands such as C-band will become a major barrier to deployment. To solve this problem, networks need to make use of multi-band coordination to eliminate higher band coverage bottleneck and improve user experience. 5G UL/DL decoupling effectively enlarges C-Band coverage to achieve C-Band and 1.8GHz co-site deployment with the same coverage, reducing the 5G site investment. The joint test result with BT / EE is a good proof of this.”

BT’s EE is an important strategic partner of Huawei. In 2012, EE and Huawei jointly deployed the first 4G network in the United Kingdom. Last year BT and Huawei announced plans to conduct UK-based R&D work into 5G technologies to jointly push standards through 3GPP.