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First live trial of Massive MIMO inside a basketball stadium

23 Jun 2017Technology news
3 minute read

Vodafone Turkey has been trialling a new technology to enable basketball fans to share more of their favourite plays from matches.

The EuroLeague Basketball is one of the most popular sporting events in Turkey. The Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul was the stage for the exciting final round of the championship, played from May 19th to 21st between CSKA Moscow, Real Madrid, Olympiacos Piraeus and Fenerbahce Istanbul.

Fans want to share pictures and videos of the best plays, but with so many people in attendance it can be hard to get enough bandwidth.

To overcome this issue, Vodafone Turkey undertook the first commercial trial of massive multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) technology in a European stadium during the Final Four event. The trial of 64 x 64 MIMO was done using the 2600MHz Time Division Duplex (TDD) spectrum band.

Massive MIMO technology, which is also set to become a key feature of 5G in future, provides higher capacity and throughput because is capable of doing ’full dimensional beamforming’, which means it can focus the mobile signal in beams that can be pointed horizontally and vertically to reach each customer.

During the live trial we installed one 2600MHz Massive MIMO TDD site in a corner inside the stadium. An increasing number of smartphones in Turkey are able to support TDD, which uses a single frequency band to send and receive communications.

The Massive MIMO site was installed on top of the existing legacy Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) macro cells. Smartphones supporting FDD require symetrical segments of spectrum to upload and download data.

The live trial results were really promising and saw nearly a quarter of the total data demand during the event provided by the TDD Massive MIMO cell. The downlink throughput from the base station to the customer’s smartphone was improved by 13%, meaning it was easier to download data during the match.

The Massive MIMO cell provided around four times better spectrum efficiency than an FDD cell during the event. Spectrum is an extremely valuable resource. Enabling several customers to use the same spectrum range at the same time via massive MIMO is an efficient way to meet the demand for capacity.

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2.6GHz TDD Massive MiMO site

This live commercial trial also demonstrated how important Massive MIMO technology will be in helping us to evolve our mobile network in Turkey further beyond 4.5G.

Massive MIMO technology will also provide significant benefits in areas with dense data traffic such as city centres, train stations, commercial districts and stadia, not just in Turkey, but all around the world.

Malilik Rao has been Chief Technology Officer of Vodafone Turkey since 2015. Prior to that he spent over five years as Technology Director of Vodafone Netherlands. He has over 20 years of international experience working for a range of major technology companies.

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