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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Multi-Band and Multi-Standard Massive MIMO system

By Nick Flaherty

US startup Blue Danube Systems has developed a 5G-ready Massive MIMO system that supports simultaneous beamforming over multiple frequency bands and across multiple cellular standards.

The key to the BeamCraft 600 series is the embedded software that is extendable through cloud-based intelligence to dynamically direct radio beams where mobile traffic is high. Unlike other Massive MIMO systems, they require no change to existing cell sites and are compatible with today’s smartphones and LTE nodes.

The 96-element antenna supports up to two active mid bands using 16 software configurable beams, twice the capacity of the previous generation but still within the same 14in wide form factor. Additionally, an integrated passive low-band option is also available to further conserve antenna mount positions. 

With mobile video driving ever increasing traffic demand, operators have needed to add more cell sites, acquire and deploy additional spectrum, and support multiple wireless standards resulting in more equipment per site and contributing to significant OPEX and CAPEX increases. BeamCraft 600 allows operators to gain an immediate capacity boost using existing network assets by replacing 3G/4G radio and antenna systems with a single unit thereby reducing the equipment on site – in some cases by as much as 66%. 

Blue Danube has deployed active solutions in 3 mid bands to date (AWS, PCS, DCS) and will trial the multi-band BeamCraft 600 in 2Q’18. Additional products supporting higher frequency bands including TDD will be available in 2H’18.

“Blue Danube’s portfolio of Massive MIMO products enables operators to flexibly customize RF energy to optimize capacity, coverage and cell edge performance.” said Mark Pinto, CEO & President of Blue Danube Systems. “Our 5G-ready architecture allows beam-based network management leading to virtualization of the network RF functions. By avoiding the rigidity imposed by other radio architectures, we are enabling a completely flexible RAN ecosystem.”

“With FDD representing at least 85% of the global commercial networks, mid band FDD Massive MIMO solutions will be critical as operators transition to 5G,” said Julian Bright, analyst at Ovum. “The vast majority of the world’s leading operators have multiple 3G and 4G LTE bands in this frequency range. Blue Danube’s multi-band solution offers a compelling upgrade option for current networks, unlocking the potential of operators’ most valuable FDD spectrum asset.”

Blue Danube Systems is a privately held start-up backed by Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake along with other investors including AT&T. 

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