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Market Research Report
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1023609

5G: The Greatest Show on Earth - Volume 18, The Hunt for Uplink-256QAM and UL-MIMO (5G Benchmark Study, with a Focus on Two 5G NR Features [UL-256QAM and UL-MIMO])

Published: | Signals Research Group | 66 Pages | Delivery time: 1-2 business days

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5G: The Greatest Show on Earth - Volume 18, The Hunt for Uplink-256QAM and UL-MIMO (5G Benchmark Study, with a Focus on Two 5G NR Features [UL-256QAM and UL-MIMO])
Published: August 17, 2021
Signals Research Group
Content info: 66 Pages
Delivery time: 1-2 business days
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Description

SRG just completed its eighteenth 5G benchmark study, this time with a focus on two 5G NR features (UL-256QAM and UL-MIMO), which can result in much higher uplink user data speeds and increased spectral efficiency. We tested these features in T-Mobile's commercial Band n41 network in Buena Park, CA where Ericsson is the infrastructure supplier. Separately, we include results from a 5G NR network coverage study that we conducted in two US markets.

Highlights of the Report include the following:

  • Our Thanks. We did this study in collaboration with Accuver Americas (XCAL-M and XCAP), Rohde & Schwarz (TSME6 scanner) and Spirent Communications (Umetrix Data). SRG did all the testing and analysis of the data and we are solely responsible for the commentary in the report.
  • Background. T-Mobile is preparing to launch UL-256QAM and UL-MIMO across its nationwide Band n41 network. The operator is likely the first in the world to introduce these features and SRG is definitely the first organization to publish an independent assessment of the features.
  • The Devices. We tested with the Galaxy S21 Ultra, the LG Wing (UL-256QAM) and the OnePlus 9 Pro (UL-256QAM and UL-MIMO). Although the functionality we tested is well-defined in the standards, there is a device/chipset requirement that the industry has not yet fully embraced. We believe the OnePlus is the only smartphone which supports both features. Hopefully, the results of our study will prove to be the catalyst to move things forward.
  • Data Collection. We tested in a multi-cell Band n41 cluster that also supported the Standalone (SA) architecture. We tested at fixed locations with varying RF conditions as well as along a 17.2 km drive route that included a full range of RF conditions, including seamless handovers between Band n71 (also SA). We tested devices in parallel to evaluate spectral efficiency differences and separately to quantify differences in peak performance. We also included low bit rate applications as part of the study.
  • Data Analysis. We time binned and area binned the data to allow an apples-to-apples comparison of the results between smartphones, including filtering of data to ensure smartphones were all sending data and attached to the same cell site. We analyzed spectral and resource block efficiency as a function of RF conditions and how frequently the smartphones used the uplink enhancements. We also looked at current efficiency on how these features impact battery life.
  • Headliner Results. Although aggregate performance over all RF conditions matters the most, we documented a peak uplink data speed of 223 Mbps with the OnePlus 9 Pro, followed by the LG Wing (108.2 Mbps) and the Galaxy S21 Ultra (86 Mbps). Put another way, we witnessed a 2.6x increase in uplink data speeds versus what consumers enjoy today.
  • 5G NR Coverage. With the TSME6 scanner we evaluated 5G NR network coverage for the four nationwide 5G NR networks in the US in two US markets. We focused on signal quality (SINR) versus signal quantity (RSRP). The low band networks could suffer from too much of a good thing (coverage), resulting in higher interference, while the mid-band network coverage was surprisingly good.
Table of Contents

Table of Contents

1.0. Executive Summary

2.0. Key Observations

3.0. Uplink Full Bandwidth Drive Tests

  • 3.1. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro with UL-MIMO and 256QAM Capabilities - Simultaneous Testing
  • 3.2. Samsung Galaxy S21 and OnePlus 9 Pro with UL-MIMO and 256QAM Capabilities - Individual Testing
  • 3.3. LG Wing with 256QAM Capabilities - comparative results with Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • 3.4. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (LTE Band 41) and OnePlus 9 Pro (5G NR Band n41 and Band n71) with UL-MIMO and 256QAM Capabilities - Simultaneous Testing
  • 3.5. OnePlus 9 Pro - UDP and HTTPS

4.0. User Experience Tests

  • 4.1. Current Efficiency
  • 4.2. Video Chat
  • 4.3. Web Browsing

5.0. Test Methodology

6.0. Final Thoughts

7.0. Appendix

  • 7.1. District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia
  • 7.2. Minneapolis and West Minneapolis Suburbs

Index of Figures & Tables

  • Figure 1. Headliner Peak Uplink Speeds on 5G NR Band n41
  • Figure 2. OnePlus 9 Pro Throughput Grouped by 256QAM Utilization
  • Figure 3. 5G NR Coverage - D.C. Area
  • Figure 4. D.C. Area Drive Routes
  • Figure 5. Minneapolis Area Drive Routes
  • Figure 6. RSRP Cumulative Distribution Curves - S21 Ultra and OnePlus Pro 9
  • Figure 7. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra UL64QAM Utilization Geo Plot
  • Figure 8 .OnePlus 9 Pro 6 UL64QAM Utilization Geo Plot
  • Figure 9. OnePlus 9 Pro 6 UL256QAM Utilization Geo Plot
  • Figure 10. OnePlus 9 Pro 6 ULMIMO Layers Utilization Geo Plot
  • Figure 11 .UL64QAM and UL256QAM Cumulative Distribution Curves and Median Values -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 12. ULMIMO Layers Distribution Curve -- OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 13. RSRP versus PUSCH Throughput -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 14. RSRP versus ULMIMO Layers -- OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 15. RSRP versus UL64QAM and UL256QAM Utilization -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 16. PUSCH Resource Block Usage and PUSCH Throughput Distribution Curves and Median Values -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 17. Uplink Resource Block E.ciency Grouped by OnePlus 9 Pro 256QAM Utilization Rates -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 18. Uplink Spectral E.ciency Grouped by OnePlus 9 Pro 256QAM Utilization Rates -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 19. Uplink Resource Block Usage and PUSCH Throughput Grouped by OnePlus 9 Pro 256QAM Utilization Rates -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 20. S21 Ultra PUSCH Throughput Geo Plot
  • Figure 21. OnePlus 9 Pro PUSCH Throughput Geo Plot
  • Figure 22. RSRP Cumulative Distribution Curves -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus Pro 9
  • Figure 23. 64QAM and 256QAM Cumulative Distribution Curves and Median Values -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 24. Distribution of Transmit Modes -- OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 25. Transmit Mode Type -- OnePlus 9 Pro tested alongside the S21 Ultra
  • Figure 26. Transmit Mode Type -- OnePlus 9 Pro tested by itself
  • Figure 27. RSRP Versus PUSCH Throughput -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 28. RSRP Versus Uplink MCS Allocations -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 29. PUSCH Resource Block Usage and PUSCH Throughput Distribution Curves and Median Values -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 30. RSRP Versus Resource Block E.ciency -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 31. Uplink Resource Block Usage, PUSCH Throughput and MIMO Rank Grouped by 256QAM Utilization Rates -- OnePlus 9 Pro (Area and Time Binned)
  • Figure 32. Uplink Resource Block Usage, PUSCH Throughput and MIMO Rank Grouped by 256QAM Utilization Rates -- OnePlus 9 Pro (Time Binned Only)
  • Figure 33. Uplink Resource Block Usage, PUSCH Throughput and 256QAM Utilization Rate Grouped by Uplink MIMO Rank -- OnePlus 9 Pro (Area and Time Binned)
  • Figure 34. Uplink Resource Block Usage, PUSCH Throughput and 256QAM Utilization Rate Grouped by Uplink MIMO Rank -- OnePlus 9 Pro (Time Binned Only)
  • Figure 35. RSRP Versus 256QAM Utilization -- LG Wing
  • Figure 36. Resource Block E.ciency Grouped by 256QAM Utilization Rates -- LG Wing and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 37. Resource Block E.ciency Grouped by Transmit Mode Type -- LG Wing and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 38. Resource Block E.ciency Grouped by Transmit Mode Type -- LG Wing and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 39. PUSCH Resource Block Usage and PUSCH Throughput Grouped by 256QAM Utilization Rates -- LG Wing
  • Figure 40. RSRP Versus PUSCH Throughput -- LG Wing, S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 41. RSRP Versus Resource Block E.ciency -- LG Wing, S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 42. Absolute and Relative Spectral E.ciency (Time Binned Only) -- LG Wing, S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 43. Absolute and Relative Spectral E.ciency (Area and Time Binned) -- LG Wing, S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 44. RSRP Versus Spectral E.ciency Based on Measured PUSCH Throughput -- S21 Ultra (LTE Band 41), OnePlus 9 Pro (5G NR Band 71) and OnePlus 9 Pro (5G NR Band n41)
  • Figure 45. RSRP Versus Spectral E.ciency Based on RB Normalized PUSCH Throughput -- S21 Ultra (LTE Band 41), OnePlus 9 Pro (5G NR Band 71) and OnePlus 9 Pro (5G NR Band n41)
  • Figure 46. RSRP Versus PUSCH Throughput -- UDP and HTTP
  • Figure 47. PUSCH Resource Block Usage and PUSCH Throughput Distribution Curves and Median Values -- UDP and HTTP
  • Figure 48. Cell Site in Faux Bell Tower
  • Figure 49. Current Consumption with Three Scenarios -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 50. Application Layer Throughput with Ideal and Modest RF Conditions -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 51. Current Consumption Adjusted for Airplane Mode Current -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 52. Current E.ciency -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 53. Resource Block E.ciency Grouped by 256QAM Utilization Rates -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 54. Resource Block E.ciency Grouped by ULMIMO Rank -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 55. Web Page Load Times -- S21 Ultra (LTE Band 41) and OnePlus 9 Pro (5G NR Band n41 SA)
  • Figure 56. 5G NR PUSCH Resource Block Usage per Web Page -- S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro
  • Figure 57. Rohde & Schwarz TSME6 Scanner
  • Figure 58. TSME6 Scanner Information in XCALM
  • Figure 59. XCALM in Action
  • Figure 60. Umetrix Data Architecture
  • Figure 61. D.C. Drive Routes
  • Figure 62. Probability of Network Coverage by Operator -- DC, Maryland and Northern VA
  • Figure 63. SINR Distribution by Operator -- DC, Maryland and Northern VA
  • Figure 64. RSRP Delta by Operator -- DC, Maryland and Northern VA
  • Figure 65. Average Number of Detected PCIs by Operator -- DC, Maryland and Northern VA
  • Figure 66. AT&T Band n5 SINR
  • Figure 67. Verizon Band n5 SINR
  • Figure 68. TMobile Band n71 SINR
  • Figure 69. TMobile Band n41 SINR
  • Figure 70. Operator SINR Along Interstate 66 to West Virginia
  • Figure 71. Minnesota Drive Routes
  • Figure 72. Probability of Network Coverage by Operator -- Minneapolis
  • Figure 73. SINR Distribution by Operator -- Minneapolis
  • Figure 74. Median SINR by Operator -- Western Suburbs
  • Figure 75. AT&T Band n5 SINR
  • Figure 76. Verizon Band n5 SINR
  • Figure 77. TMobile Band n71 SINR
  • Figure 78. TMobile Band n41 SINR