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5G viability depends on R&D

Posted: 10 Dec 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:5G? millimetre-wave frequencies? LTE? 4G?

The 5G technology is making the headlines, but all developments pertaining to it are still in laboratories and research centres. Despite the lack of specifications, it is dreamt of having between 1Gbit/s and 10Gbit/s high edge speeds.

As a general rule it is the consensus that 5G should be capable of a thousand-fold increase in current rates and fast enough to enable wireless medical equipment, make Wi-Fi like capability ubiquitous, and display high-definition movies on mobile devices without those annoying buffering delays.

Unfortunately, the word ubiquitous was thrown around a lot with the advent of 4G but currently it still remains rare beast. Also, many of the claims of how fast LTE would be have just not panned out. We might therefore ask if 5G is jumping the gun a little too early, and that 4G still has a long way to grow and evolve, just as 3G did.

However, if we keep in mind that 5G is really a search for the next stage of the wireless revolution and is about asking questions about what comes next, then there are some impressive developments in the pipeline.

Recently New York University researchers have taken a hard look at the millimetre-wave (mm-wave) spectrum for 5G. At first this sounds counter-intuitive as it is generally accepted that mm-waves travel only short distances and are obstructed by rain, leaves, buildings and bodies.

However researchers of NYU WIRELESS, a research centre of the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, report promising findings that could enable 5G mm-wave cells to be as large as several hundred metres, which is the same size as 4G cells in dense urban environments. This is important in making mm-wave practical as the costs of installing antennas and maintaining antenna sites are significant.

Professor Theodore "Ted" Rappaport, director of NYU WIRELESS, and student co-authors have described a tool, that uses National Instruments technology to measure mm-wave channels: a sliding correlator channel sounder system, which measures over very large bandwidths, even beyond line-of-sight conditions. The researchers tested in the 28GHz and 73GHz bands, both outdoors and in the complex interior environment of a simulated office. The measurements, as well as the mathematical channel models, will help engineers design future mm-wave wireless communications systems and will assist in the standardisation of these networks.

In a recent article, the researchers introduced extensive wideband mm-wave propagation measurements, as well as directional and omnidirectional path loss models and multi-path spread characteristics. The measurements and modelling also revealed potential for some simplified receiver structures, as well as for the formation and combination of specific transmitting beams to improve the signal-to-noise ratio.

Further, the Federal Communications Commission recently gave impetus to the race to 5G by opening up a two-month public comment period to explore the feasibility and implementation of high-frequency radio waves in the mm-wave spectrum.

During its seminal mm-wave research, NYU WIRELESS is functioning as a hub linking its 11 industrial affiliates as well as researchers at other universities. Its measurements and theoretical modelling work continue to uncover unexpected potential. The centre is also developing antennas and other 5G technology, including medical applications that will become possible with massive increases in data capacity.

-Jean-Pierre Joosting
??EE Times Europe

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