Every year at the end February, we make our annual pilgrimage to Barcelona, Spain for the world’s largest wireless conference, the Mobile World Congress. The shear scale of the conference can be overwhelming with all wireless companies demonstrating the latest technologies, outlining future directions, and of course showcasing the latest wireless products. I just returned from Barcelona and MWC 2019, and here are some thoughts.
First and foremost, 5G is here. Unlike prior years where 5G speculation ran rampant, this year service operators, infrastructure manufacturers, device manufacturers and of course semiconductor manufacturers demonstrated their 5G offerings. Test and measurement companies also demonstrated their latest equipment essential to enable these wireless companies to transition from prototype to product.
NI and Spirent demonstrated a gNB emulator connected to a UE or device emulator for sub 6 GHz 5G NR. This end to end demonstration showed the full capabilities of the 5G NR specification, and offers a powerful platform to test both devices and equipment – from validation to full conformance. Spirent plans to use their gNB emulator based on the NI platform as a part of their full testing platform which includes RF or channel emulation and 5G Core Network emulation.
NI SDRs could also be seen in several other booths including:
- W2BI—mmWave UE conformance test
- Viavi—next-generation UE emulation
- Amarisoft—LTE and 5G protocol stack software
What was also heartening about this year’s MWC was to see our partners take the next step in terms of the 5G wireless evolution. Samsung, Nokia, Intel, AT&T, and Verizon were all early adopters of NI SDR technology for research and prototyping and these companies are well on their way toward a significant 5G future.
What’s clear from MWC 2019 is that the excitement around 5G is still palpable and the entire wireless industry is moving towards a 5G connected world. Although it is early, the rollout is underway, and NI aims to help our partners and customers transition from 4G to 5G by offering platform components that scale to all facets of 5G including new applications and use cases that 5G offers. 2019 may very well be remembered as the year when 5G became real.