In April 2023, six months after the project kickoff, Skoltech launched the first functional prototype of a locally sourced LTE base station. The recent lab tests at Skoltech included VoLTE calls and data transfer at 97.75 Mbps.
The project is part of Target 5, "Development of a carrier-grade 4G/5G OpenRAN base station" of the "Current and Future Mobile Networks" roadmap, implemented under the supervision of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media. The project team includes experts from Skoltech Wireless and its subdivision, the National Technology Initiative (NTI) Center of Excellence in Wireless Technology and the Internet of Things, with support from the NTI Foundation. The project leverages Skoltech's unique knowledge and expertise gained during the 5G base station development.
It took six months for the team to build a functional prototype of the first Russian 4G/LTE base station. At Skoltech lab, the team made a VoLTE call and tested the station's mobile Internet access capability. The test on April 27 demonstrated stable data transfer at a rate of about 100 Mbps. The photos taken during the tests are attached to this release.
Skoltech's solution incorporates the updated 5G/LTE software, the prototypes of the transceiver, and other modules.
The solution is fully compliant with the 3GPP and OpenRAN international standards. Skoltech's extensive expertise in developing 5G technology and creating functional prototypes of the first Russian 5G base station has enabled simultaneous support of two communication protocols: 5G and LTE (4G).
Skoltech's LTE solution operates in the 2,500-2,690 MHz band (LTE Band 7), widely used by domestic 4G networks. The solution is also suitable for other bands under agreement with Russian operators. Its modular design, dual standard support (5G/LTE), and advanced functionality make it feasible for profitable export.
As an open platform based on the OpenRAN architecture, the Skoltech solution can accommodate components manufactured by other Russian vendors. Skoltech has always been committed to having local players extensively involved in building the national telecommunications ecosystem.
Currently, Skoltech is working on the LTE base station project using its resources. The government allocated funding for the project through the "Current and Future Mobile Networks" roadmap, but Skoltech has not yet received the support.
"It may seem that adding LTE support to your 5G base station is as easy as winking, but I know for a fact that it is not. This enhancement affected every station's element (from network management software to radio modules). Our choice of open solutions and the Open RAN international standard helped create a functional prototype in the shortest possible period, but there is a lot of work ahead. We expect to have the first version of the product ready for testing in real networks this fall. As a following step, we will work in close coordination with operators. We will do our best to ensure that our solution operates in a stable, if not downright perfect, manner," said Skoltech Wireless director Dmitry Lakontsev.