By 2021, it’s estimated that more people will have mobile phones (5.5 billion) than running water (5.3 billion). Bandwidth-hungry video will further increase the demands on mobile networks, accounting for 78% of mobile traffic.1 5G networks using massive multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) technology will be key to supporting this growth. It’s expected that 5G mobile connections will grow from just 5 million in 2019 to nearly 600 million by 2023, according to Strategy Analytics.2
MIMO: The Basics
1. Single-user MIMO systems were used for 3G, while 4G adopted multi-user MIMO system technology.
Each generation of wireless technology has used advances in antenna technology to help improve network speeds. 3G employed single-user MIMO, which leverages multiple simultaneous data streams to transmit data from the base station to a single user. Multi-user MIMO is a dominant technology in 4G systems—it assigns different data streams to different users, providing significant capacity and performance advantages over 3G (Fig. 1). 5G will introduce massive MIMO, further increasing capacity and delivering data rates up to 20 Gb/s (Fig. 2).