We previously interviewed you back at the very end of 2016. In terms of 5G, do you feel like the progress that’s been made since the time of that interview is what you expected?
A lot of progress has been made in the last two years. The 3GPP released a first draft specification (Release 15), the spectrum governing bodies around the world have designated spectrum specifically for mobile access and 5G, and semiconductor manufacturers have developed a variety of solutions for use in UEs and base stations. Finally, infrastructure, test-and-measurement vendors, semiconductor vendors, along with service operators, have all been extensively testing these new technologies and conducting field trials with the latest 5G equipment. All in all, 5G adoption and deployment is lining up nicely for 2019 and 2020 rollouts.
James Kimery, Director of Marketing, National Instruments
Verizon and Samsung recently announced the world’s first successful data transmission using 800 MHz of bandwidth at 28 GHz, resulting in a maximum throughput of almost 4 Gb/s. What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?
Millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequencies are very important to the 5G roadmap and ecosystem because the immense bandwidth offered in the mmWave spectrum translates into unprecedented data rates—a magnitude more than LTE today. The demonstration using a 5G New Radio (NR) compliant system for both the Samsung gNB and NI test UE demonstrates that 5G NR mmWave has much potential to realize the data-rate goals set forth by the IMT-2020 and the 3GPP for the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) case. This real-world demonstration clearly shows that mmWave is real and that these impressive data rates are achievable.
You mentioned that Samsung has been one of NI’s lead users for a number of years. Can you talk a little more about this?
NI has been working with Samsung for a number of years on various 4G and 5G technologies. In 2015, Samsung demonstrated the world’s first FD-MIMO base station, or eNB, for mobile access using NI’s USRP platform and the LabVIEW Communications LTE application framework at NIWeek in Austin, Texas. This public demonstration validated the concept of 3D beamforming for LTE deployments and was initially adopted by the 3GPP in Release 13 and more robustly in Release 14.
What do you expect to see in the near future regarding 5G—both in an overall sense and in terms of what to expect from NI?
5G has unstoppable momentum and initial 5G deployments will start in 2019. Most initial deployments may be on sub-6-GHz bands, but there will be some fixed wireless use cases using mmWave technologies. NI will continue to work with our many partners to prove, test, and commercialize new 5G technologies that span the “idea” proving phase in the lab to field trials with service operators using pre-commercial and commercial equipment. We also expect to help our customers meet the difficult testing requirements for semiconductors, devices, and infrastructure equipment as 5G transitions to mass production in 2019 and beyond.