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Millimetre wave makes headway in 5G research

Posted: 15 Sep 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:NYU Polytechnic? 5G? wireless communication? millimetre wave? LTE?

NYU Polytechnic's wireless research centre has revealed that it is driving ahead with work in millimetre wave bands as the latest frontier for wireless communications. It sees millimetre wave frequencies between 10-300GHz as key to connectivity in dense urban areas, with fifth-generation services expected to debut in 2020.

"A lot of companies announced very significant development plans for 5G... They're really committing to try to develop this technology," Sundeep Rangan, assistant director at NYU Wireless, indicated. "That's really a validation about this area that means it will have significant commercial impact."

Researchers demonstrated end-to-end transmission of a high-definition video stream in the 60GHz range at the Brooklyn Summit. The system included modules for synchronisation, equalisation and turbo decoding.

Theodore Rappaport

Theodore Rappaport. (Source: NYU Wireless)

"By 2020 this is going to be in full-fledged development if not deployment. We're not that far away. A lot of activities are going on today doing early prototypes," NYU Wireless director Theodore Rappaport stated. "I expect standardisation [of 5G and millimetre wave systems] to start in the next year, and you'll see 5G being woven in, sort of dovetailed in, a graceful way to extend today's 4G LTE [Long Term Evolution] standard."

NYU Wireless has been testing next-generation communications for several years, measuring and modelling millimetre waves, especially at 28GHz and 38GHz frequencies. Researchers placed base stations with sub-100mW directional antennas on rooftops in 75 locations in Manhattan and eight in Brooklyn, finding excellent propagation up to 700 feet away with power levels lower than those of today's base stations.

Locations for 5G/millimetre wave transmitters and receivers in Brooklyn

Locations for 5G/millimetre wave transmitters and receivers in Brooklyn. (Source: NYU Wireless)

"You don't have to have a line of sight at all. You can be several streets away and around the corner, but energy stays in play. There's a lot of multi-path, a lot of reflection, and surprisingly a lot of scattering," said Rappaport, adding that his team used beam combining to extend the antennas' range to over 1,000 feet. "If you replace the omnidirectional antenna at the receiver with a directional antenna, you can actually overcome the free space loss, today's propagation and today's cellular systems."

An NYU Wireless student places equipment on a rooftop.

An NYU Wireless student places equipment on a rooftop. (Source: NYU Wireless)

The directional antennas were also able to go through foliage on trees and reflect off buildings, though penetrating the buildings and floors will be more difficult with millimetre wave. In addition to the access points required in buildings, Rappaport envisions putting base stations 200 metres apart with 64 cells for every square mile in a dense area such as New York City. At the moment, such architecture would yield data rates of 2-6Gb/s, but users could see "tens of Gb/s" as millimetre wave evolves.

"We're also studying LTE and how to improve today's LTE systems, beam forming techniques, signal processing techniques to enable an millimetre-wave future where wireless devices have dozens of antenna elements, and base stations have hundreds or thousands of antenna elements."

The wireless research centre has partnered with other NYU institutions and radiologists to study the biological effects of millimetre waves, as well as improved signal processing techniques to speed up MRIs and do real-time imaging. In addition, professor Justin Cappos designed a scheme to safeguard individual passwords from hackers, while Cappos and Yanyan Zhuang are working to mitigate the risk of smartphone sensor hacking.

"Early measurements really opened up our eyes. We're letting those measurements drive our research program" to bigger possibilities, stated Rappaport.

- Jessica Lipsky
??EE Times

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