Networking firm Ericsson has officially unveiled a specialized 5G Radio Dot meant to enhance indoor 5G coverage. The new device is actually an evolution of Ericsson's widely acclaimed Radio Dot System used in many existing commercial small cell deployments. The new 5G Radio Dot, according to Ericsson, will take far less time to install than similar current solutions, and will support 5G in the 3GHz to 6GHz bands. The 5G Radio Dot is capable of achieving speeds of up to 2Gbps. Ericsson is unclear on whether that speed is per user or per Radio Dot, but even if it's the latter, users will still see real-world data speeds well in excess of 100Mbps since small cells typically only connect small sets of users at one time. The 5G Radio Dot will be having field trials with select Ericsson partners throughout 2018, including trials on commercial networks. If it proves its mettle, it will become commercially available in 2019.
The main selling point of the Ericsson 5G Radio Dot is that it can be deployed alongside existing 4G LTE solutions on the same infrastructure, and even in conjunction with those systems. That means that wireless carriers can string up 5G Radio Dot units for an apartment complex or business park, for example, and have fast local 5G coverage with 4G LTE as a reliable, wider-reaching fallback in case the 5G system fails for any reason, or becomes too crowded for the deployed amount of 5G Radio Dot units to handle.
Ericsson's current Radio Dot solutions are widely used and praised in the industry. This is so much the case that happy customers like Ovum and the China Mobile Research Institute came forward for Ericsson's announcement of the new device to say how excited they were to see Ericsson advancing the lineup into the 5G sphere. The 5G Radio Dot is meant to complement other Ericsson-made solutions, including its 4G LTE Radio Dots and outdoor 5G RAN solutions, but they can be used with just about any networking infrastructure that would normally support 5G. Given their ease of deployment and relatively low cost, it won't be too surprising to see them in a wide range of commercial 5G use cases across a large swath of big market players as the technology evolves.