Nokia, DoCoMo test high-frequency mobile with an eye on 5G

Their trials with 70GHz radios show multi-gigabit speeds

A prototype high-frequency cell, left, tracked and communicated with a prototype mobile device, right, in a Nokia demonstration at Mobile World Congress. Both devices will be shrunk down for commercial use over the next several years.

A prototype high-frequency cell, left, tracked and communicated with a prototype mobile device, right, in a Nokia demonstration at Mobile World Congress. Both devices will be shrunk down for commercial use over the next several years.

Nokia Networks and Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo are testing networks using extremely high frequencies that may someday deliver multi-gigabit speed to mobile devices.

The companies' technology trial is using 70GHz radios that today are about the size of a carry-on suitcase. Eventually, the technology will shrink down to about 5 millimeters across to fit in a mobile device.

So-called millimeter-wave radios can pack a lot of data into a narrow beam, and the frequencies they're designed to use aren't in high demand these days. That's why Nokia and other vendors see this technology as a key part of the future 5G mobile standard coming in 2020.

The trick is pointing that beam at a mobile device, but Nokia and others say they're working that out. In its booth at Mobile World Congress, Nokia demonstrated a 70GHz base station tracking a moving radio -- at pedestrian speed -- representing a mobile phone. The cell used a lens to focus its signal. As the base station locked on to the moving box, a gauge showed the connection between them jumping up to 2Gbps (bits per second).

The two components were only a few meters apart in a glass booth, but the idea is eventually to set up millimeter-wave cells on street lamps, about one per block. One cell will be able to track and communicate with multiple mobile devices at once, shifting from one to another in a microsecond, said Mark Cudak, a principal research specialist at Nokia.

Millimeter-wave technology is part of a broad industry effort to take advantage of frequencies above 6GHz, which mobile networks have mostly left alone until now. Ericsson, AT&T and Intel are also interested in this field, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission recently asked for input on mobile uses for bands between 24GHz and 72GHz.

High frequencies could be a boon to the Internet of Things, where various applications such as self-driving cars and remote medical care will drive demand for both more bandwidth and lower latency, said Phil Twist, vice president of portfolio marketing. The IoT devices will grow in number much faster than smartphones over the next several years, he said. Carriers will need a lot more spectrum to serve that growing field.

The 70GHz band where Nokia and DoCoMo's trial is taking place has 10GHz of spectrum that could be licensed to carriers in some places and may be a good bet for finding a standard band that regulators agree on around the world, Twist said. The demonstration at MWC is using just 1GHz of the band but future radios could use 2GHz and carry two streams of data. The goal is to eventually get peak speeds of 10Gbps.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NTT DoCoMoMWCtelecommunicationCarriersInternet of ThingsNokiamobileinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?