Besides its fully-programmable SDR infrastructure and the TVWS massive MIMO infrastructure, ARA employs commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) 5G massive MIMO systems at the mid-band and mmWave band, providing the robustness and performance needed for data-intensive applications such as agriculture automation and XR-based rural education. In collaboration with Ericsson, ARA provides rich configuration and measurement APIs to enable real-world measurement studies of mid-band and mmWave band massive MIMO behavior that would be infeasible otherwise.

The following figures demonstrate the field deployment of Ericsson AIR 6419 and AIR 5322 mid-band and mmWave band massive MIMO systems in ARA.

Key Features of ARA COTS 5G Infrastructure

  • COTS 5G SA Massive MIMO with 3-D Beamforming and NR-DC: ARA deploys four Ericsson base station sites in agriculture farms and rural communities. Each base station site is equipped with the following state of the art COTS 5G radios:
    • Ericsson AIR 6419 operating in the n77 5G band (3.45 – 3.55 GHz) with 192 antennas, supporting up to 16 layers of MU-MIMO;
    • Ericsson AIR 5322 operating in the n261 frequency band (27.5 – 27.9 GHz) with 256 antennas, supporting up to 8 layers of MU-MIMO.
  • COTS 5G User Equipment (UE): 20+ field deployed UE stations using the Quectel RG530 module with 4 Transmit and Receive (TRX) antennas for the mid-band n77 and 4 TRX antennas for the mmWave.
  • Performance & Programmability: The mid-band and mmWave band radios operate in the 5G Stand-Alone (SA) mode and support New Radio Dual Connectivity (NR-DC) with the mmWave carrier anchored at mid-band carrier, providing an aggregate communication capacity up to 3+ Gbps per sector and enabling advanced wireless applications such as agriculture automation. Through first-of-its-kind configuration and measurement APIs, the ARA COTS 5G infrastructure enables users to collect extensive real-world measurement data about 5G massive MIMO systems at scale, thus enabling integrative wireless studies and application pilots. 

Enabled Experiments

The ARA COTS 5G infrastructure is readily accessible remotely via the ARA Portal. Users can reserve the “COST UE Experiment Container” and ”COTS BS Experiment Container” as shown in the figure below to access the ARA COTS 5G experiment capability.

The unique COTS 5G experiments are enabled by the configuration and measurement APIs ARA provides for its COTS 5G UEs and BSes:

  • COST UE API is currently available, and it provides 5G channel information (e.g., RSRP, SINR, and RSRQ) for the mid-band and mmWave serving cell.
  • COST BS API is being developed and expected to be made available later in 2024:
    • Collect metrics related to massive MIMO 3D beamforming: cell-level Channel State Information (CSI) such as Channel Quality Indicator (CQI), Rank Indicator (RI), Precoding Matrix Indicator (PMI) (if configured as code-book-based beamforming), and/or Sounding Reference Signal (SRS) PMI (if configured as sounding-based beamforming) (planned in Q2 2024).
    • Configuration of 3GPP Ref. 17 massive MIMO systems (planned in Q4 2024):
      • Beam management: fast UE TX panel selection etc
      • Multiple transmission and reception point (mTRP) for ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (URLLC): mTRP robustness of PDCCH, PUCCH, and PUSCH
      • TDD and FDD reciprocity: 8 antenna SRS switching, Overhead Reduction of NR type II CSI