In the past, the performance of the cellular uplink has been far less important than boosting downlink capacity and efficiency, for all that web browsing and content downloading. But with 5G, there will be far greater focus on the uplink, to support tising usage of a range of services from low latency IoT applications, to video streaming from security cameras, to content sharing on social media.
The growing role of unpaired TDD spectrum in 5G will be important since it gives the operator the flexibility to decide how resources are balanced between uplink and downlink. But technical advances are needed too, and one breakthrough is being claimed by Huawei and China Telecom.
The two companies have co-developed a technology designed to increase uplink rate and reduce latency on 5G networks, by allowing FDD and TDD spectrum to work together as a single resource.
Snappily named the ‘5G Super Uplink Joint Technology Innovation’, it relies on emerging techniques for coordination of TDD (time division duplex) and FDD (frequency division duplex) spectrum. This is combined with aggregation of those time and frequency domains, and of high and low band spectrum, to deliver a bigger seamless pool of resources for the transmission.
The technology will be implemented in China Telecom’s 5G NR Standalone network, which it will start to introduce, with a cloud-native 5G core, from 2021, and is compliant with 3GPP standards.
Aggregation of TDD and FDD bands has mainly been done to boost downlink performance, but by using time-frequency domain aggregation in the uplink, a performance hike of between 20% and 60% was seen in Telecom’s tests. Meanwhile, the uplink rate for users at the cell edge increased by 2-4 times and air interface latency fell by about 30%.
The operator said this combination of high bandwidth and low latency in the uplink and downlink will be critical to use cases it is developing in various sectors such as government, transportation, healthcare, tourism, public safety, vehicles, education and manufacturing.
“This solution aims to further improve the uplink data capability and reduce latency, providing better development space for vertical industry applications,” said Liu Guiqing, EVP of China Telecom.
“Service requirements are driving the development of 5G technologies. 5G industry innovation represents uplink ultra-large bandwidth, ultra-low latency, end-to-end slicing, and mobile edge computing,” added Ryan Ding, CEO of Huawei’s carrier business group, in a statement.