Optimizing, testing and comparing performance of massive MIMO base station algorithms and RF hardware settings require a RF channel emulator that is capable of emulating in real-time the massive MxK RF channels, where M≥64 is the number of RF paths in the base station and K≥8 is the number of spatially multiplexed UE data streams in the same resource block. This is needed in multiple stages, from development, production to deployment.
Several operators (e.g., China Mobile, Softbank) have deployed 64Tx/64Rx TDD 3D MIMO base stations and have obtained 2x to 4x throughput and coverage gains. They are expanding to large scale deployment and most operators are expected to start deployment of such system soon. However, to date, there is no RF channel emulator available that is capable of testing such 3D MIMO base stations for 64×8 and 64×16 MIMO. A massive MIMO RF Channel Emulator will help equipment vendors speed up the development and optimization of new massive MIMO base station products, and help operators evaluate the performance of massive MIMO base stations from different vendors using realistic channel models capturing their deployment conditions and make wise deployment decisions.