Verizon announced that it has started deploying the Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) Massive Multiple Input – Multiple Output (MIMO) technology with the help of network equipment supplier Ericsson. The first installation took place in Irvine, California, and it is running on a 20MHz block of the AWS spectrum. The carrier will likely deploy this technology to more areas in the near future as it prepares for the deployment of its 5G network. By taking advantage of this technology, the telecom giant expects that the spectral and general efficiency of its network will be improved and that the speeds delivered to its subscribers will increase within the limits of its existing spectrum holdings.
The Massive MIMO installed in California has an array of 96 antenna elements and is powered by 16 transceiver radio modules. The use of multiple transmitters allows for numerous signal paths and these signals are then received by a mobile device at different angles and at slightly different times. The antenna is also capable of beamforming, i.e. relying on a technique that focuses radio waves to a specific location. This solution has several advantages, including reduced interference and increased base station coverage. A higher number of receiving antennas in the Massive MIMO setup also enhances the range and increases the overall capacity of the network.
Aside from the massive MIMO antennas, Verizon is currently testing and rolling out a number of other new network technologies to further improve the data speeds experienced by its customers. Existing Licensed Assisted Access technology (LAA) uses unlicensed spectrum to increase the available bandwidth to Verizon's subscribers. To prevent interference with other equipment that is using the same spectrum, this technology makes use of the listen-before-talk feature which checks if there is a transmitter occupying a certain frequency before sending its own signals. The 256-QAM data modulation, on the other hand, increases the number of bits sent over a single transmission. It is also refarming its frequencies in certain locations from 2G CDMA to LTE. For example, the CDMA network run by Verizon in its hometown of New York City is only running on the 850MHz band, while the rest of its frequencies have already been transferred to LTE. Verizon also boasts about its small cell deployment which increases the network capacity in crowded areas and simultaneously improves the reliability of its network in other locations.