Japan’s NTT DoCoMo plans to expand its 6G experimental trials and has established two new partnerships to help it.
The telco announced during Mobile World Congress this week that it will work with Swedish kit maker Ericsson and US-based test and measurement firm Keysight on some new areas of research.
DoCoMo said its work with Ericsson centres on new 6G wireless interfaces for frequencies in the 6-15-GHz range, as well as the sub-TeraHertz band, which includes frequencies above100-GHz, and are said to be capable of ultra-fast data transmission. Meanwhile, it will work with Keysight to test the propagation characteristics of ultra-wideband communication over sub-THz frequencies.
Given the diminutive wavelength of the sub-THz band, the smart money says that propagation will be extremely limited, which is why so much of the early research into 6G also focuses on advancements in beamforming, and using AI to enable 6G radios to effectively learn how to optimise transmission and reception under various conditions. DoCoMo and Nokia were only talking about this the other week in fact. DoCoMo also recently revealed how it has been experimenting with metasurfaces to direct mobile signals to specific locations.
Ericsson and Keysight join Nokia, Fujitsu, and NEC, which have been helping DoCoMo with its 6G research since last June.
“Going forward, DoCoMo and NTT will conduct further trials under this newly expanded structure as well as pursue the development of mobile communication technologies with other vendors who possess special expertise,” said NTT DoCoMo, in a statement on Monday. “By steadily accelerating such R&D initiatives, DoCoMo and NTT aim to contribute to the early standardisation and commercialisation of 6G worldwide.”
As well as having half an eye on the future, DoCoMo is also firmly focused on the present, sharing at MWC some new developments regarding Open RAN.
Open RAN – alongside vRAN – is proving to be a hot topic at this year’s show, with Deutsche Telekom promising to embark on a commercial deployment “soon”, and related announcements from the likes of Nokia and Intel, among others.
For its part, DoCoMo revealed in one announcement that it is developing a RAN intelligent controller (RIC) that can work with base station equipment produced by different Open RAN suppliers. DoCoMo said it plans to evaluate different types of RIC application software from different vendors with the aim of optimising and controlling base station parameters in a multivendor environment.
“Verifications are expected eventually to demonstrate how the RIC can enhance the communication quality and customer experiences, as well as reduce operational cost, which is essential for promoting flexible and scalable Open RAN comprising multivendor equipment,” DoCoMo said.
Separately, DoCoMo also announced it has established new Open RAN partnerships with US-based Dish and Singapore’s Singtel. The former plans to evaluate the performance and stability of Open RAN products at DoCoMo’s Shared Open Lab in Japan. Meanwhile, the latter has agreed to work with DoCoMo on evaluating various Open RAN technologies and how to go about actually deploying it. These build on earlier Open RAN-related partnerships between DoCoMo and Korea’s KT Corp, Vodafone, and Filipino operator Smart Communications.
“Operators that so far have been constructing networks incorporating devices from just a single vendor are now facing technical and verification challenges in their efforts to implement Open RAN. DoCoMo, as the world’s only company to have constructed networks implemented with multiple vendors since the 4G era, is leveraging its expertise to support the Open RAN efforts of operators worldwide,” DoCoMo said.
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