Nokia and China Mobile launch hybrid 5G indoor system

Hybrid active-passive design is intended to reduce cost of indoor 5G deployments, whilst providing highly localised services and service monitoring.

Nokia and China Mobile Research Institute, the research arm of China Mobile, have co-operated to design an indoor network solution that combines passive antennas with 5G radio and Bluetooth beacons.

The system is designed to enable very localised services, reduce the cost of deploying 5G NR indoor coverage and capacity and simplify monitoring and operations.

Set-up: Baseband -> Hub -> RRUs -> passive antennas

The system distributes 5G NR signal over elements that include integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) functions. A Nokia Airscale 5G baseband unit is connected to a Hub node that aggregates 5G NR CPRI fronthaul and also provides power over Ethernet to 5G Pico Remote Radio Units (RRUs). These RRUs themselves are integrated with BLE gateways that manage the Bluetooth beacons as well as providing DC power to the beacons over coaxial cables. Finally, passive antennas distribute signal delivered from the pico RRUs via RF cable. BLE beacons inside the antennas also provide the BLE broadcast.

The BLE gateways within the RRUs are equipped with monitoring capabilities to check the signal from each RF cable. Nokia said that it would be demonstrating the operational efficiencies this built-in monitoring can deliver in 2019.

A release from the company said:

“The ability to leverage both active and passive indoor distribution technologies enables the delivery of intelligent operations and maintenance services, making it easier to monitor, locate and correct any disconnected elements. The new services enabled include weak coverage analysis, indoor positioning, traffic flow analysis, easy expansion and elastic scalability. In a shopping mall, the location services can enable functions such as remote security monitoring and the ability to send shoppers information about busy locations to avoid congestion. Additionally, the integration of third-party services such as geofencing and hot-spot identification will enable retailers to send coupons and store information to customers in a mall who have opted in to the service.”