Skoltech has successfully fulfilled its three-year project culminating in the first prototype of a Russian 5G base station. The project was supported by the NTI Foundation as part of the national Digital Economy program supervised by the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media. The leading research center founded specifically for this task developed a state-of-the-art 5G network software and hardware complex within 39 months. The project’s budget totaled 474 million rubles, including a 300 million ruble government grant.
Skoltech, a Russian developer of advanced wireless technology, has presented the first Russian 5G base station. The solution includes both software and hardware modules, which a local industrial partner will manufacture at the request of mobile network operators and other customers. The first batch of hardware for the pilot network is now ready. The team expects to manufacture 100 base stations by the end of the year.
Skoltech’s solution fully complies with the international 3GPP and OpenRAN standards and supports the key 5G features, such as standalone and online operation, eMBB, network slicing, VoNR and ViNR calls, and more. In terms of performance, Skoltech’s base station compares well with its foreign analogues and ensures the maximum mobile Internet speed of 1.4 Gbps.
The base station uses the 4.4-4.99 GHz (n79) band designated as a priority band for 5G networks in Russia and can be adapted for other bands, such as 3.5 GHz (n78). Thanks to its modular design and advanced functionality, the solution holds much promise for exports. Several friendly countries have already indicated their interest in the product.
Skoltech’s solution supports the OpenRAN standard and, therefore, can use components from other Russian developers. Thus, the first Russian 5G base station is the first building block for the national telecommunication ecosystem. Carriers will also benefit from standardization by choosing the best hardware for their mobile networks. To build on the success in creating an open ecosystem, Skoltech has developed a preliminary series of national OpenRAN standards, which are currently going through the approval process at Rosstandart and will become the first technology guide for the young industry.
Both the NTI Foundation and the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media gave their full support to the project throughout its three-year term, which helped create advanced technology products for the Russian economy within a short time. The project is a striking example of success in the implementation of the Digital Economy program and a source of valuable experience that will help deal with new challenges.
Last year, the Skoltech solution successfully passed the integrated test at an independent laboratory with the participation of three Russia’s four major carriers under the supervision of the Open Network Technologies Association. Negotiations are currently underway with market players to deploy 5G pilot zones using Skoltech’s base stations. Their launch is scheduled for 2023-2024.
“Notwithstanding the sanctions, Russia continues to create 5G network hardware. The results presented by our colleagues open the door to mass production of 5G base stations. The developers have deployed a pilot 5G network in Skolkovo and tested it for compliance with the specifications,” NTI Foundation CEO Vadim Medvedev said.
“Now that the first Russian 5G base station is ready, we are moving on to the large-scale pilot phase to test small batches of hardware in real-world environments. This year, we plan to manufacture 100 base stations. Some major projects that we are already involved in include a 5G network for the Moscow Metro, private 5G networks for major Russian corporations, two UAV projects, and pilot zones with our hardware in real networks in the largest Russian cities. Our Skoltech team continues to develop its product and is ready to assist our operators in building a full-fledged 5G infrastructure in Russia,” Dmitry Lakontsev, the director of Skoltech Wireless, noted.
“We are fully aware that 5G networks are indispensable for the domestic telecom industry. Despite the sanctions, we have completed our project exactly as planned, so Russia now stands on the cusp of deploying its own 5G networks. Our project brings us closer in technology excellence to big-name OpenRAN vendors, such as Movenir, Parallel Wireless, and Rakuten Symphony. Leveraging our scalable platform and project expertise, we can add 4G capability to our solution. We intend to present the first version of our LTE hardware by this summer, although it will take us another two years to ensure full compliance with operator requirements,” Alexander Sivolobov, the deputy head of the Skoltech-based NTI Center of Excellence in Wireless and IoT, added.
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