SK Telecom, Ericsson stretch 5G speeds with «elastic cell»

22 Jul 2014

The race to 5G continues as SK Telecom and Ericsson announced on Monday the successful demonstration of cellular technology that can boost data throughput rates up by 50% at the cell edge.

The technology – billed as “elastic cell” and “flexible cell” – essentially allows multiple small cells within range of a handset to cooperate with each other to provide the best connection (as opposed to traditional cellular technology where the handset communicates with just one cell at a time).

From the press release:

A serving cell receives information on nearby cells from a handset and selects a group of cells that can improve the network quality in the cell-edge for transmission while temporarily turning off the cells that cause interferences. As a result, Elastic Cell can ensure more seamless data transmission by preventing possible quality degradation that can occur when the handset moves across cell boundaries.

SK Telecom says the demo “confirmed that the technology can improve data transfer rate by up to 50% at the cell boundary areas compared to the existing LTE network”.

SKT also says elastic cell technology is “expected to become a key enabler for 5G”. It doesn’t elaborate, but with small cells expected to play a major role in 5G, interference management between cells is a crucial issue for ensuring top data link performance. Indeed, coordinated multipoint (CoMP) technology is being developed to address that very issue for 4G networks.

In any case, SK Telcom says it aims to commercialize “elastic cell” by 2016.

The elastic cell demo comes just two weeks after SK Telecom and Ericsson formally teamed up to collaborate on 5G R&D.

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