The University of Bristol, which has been actively engaged in fifth-generation (5G) network research, has signed an agreement with Keysight Technologies to expand its testing capabilities to millimeter-wave frequencies. Inhabiting the extremely high-frequency (EHF) spectrum between 30 and 300 GHz, millimeter-wave bands are expected to be used in the development of 5G air interfaces.
As part of the formal agreement, the University of Bristol will apply Keysight’s millimeter-wave channel sounding hardware and software to its experimental antenna and ray-tracing technology. The test equipment will be tasked with validating ultra-broadband channel models and simulations in the millimeter-wave bands. The tests will be geared toward understanding the nuances of these frequencies for use in communications. Keysight’s test equipment will work in conjunction with Anite Propism F8 channel emulators, which the university acquired with support from the U.K.'s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
The pursuit of additional bandwidth to support high-speed, low-latency data transmission has pushed the research community toward higher frequencies for multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) networks. Aside from the wide availability of spectrum, millimeter-wave bands are capable of offloading pressure from networks using lower frequencies. In addition, millimeter-wave signals are highly directional, allowing systems to operate in close proximity without causing interference. For that reason, millimeter wave can also be used to backhaul data from small cells to the core network.
The research agreement will complement the University of Bristol’s Millimeter-Wave Based Fifth Generation Integrated Communications (mmMAGIC) project. This project is seeking to develop new concepts for radio-access technology for deployment in the 6-to-100-GHz range, with data rates up to 10 Gbits/s and end-to-end latency down to 5 ms. The research is being funded by the 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G PPP), an organization that supports the European Union’s vision to release 5G wireless networks in 2020.
About the mmMAGIC Project
The mmMAGIC research will involve developing new adaptive and cooperative beam-forming and tracking methods to address the specific deficiencies of millimeter-wave mobile propagation. Millimeter-wave signals are limited to line-of-sight transmission. In addition, they are susceptible to rain fade at 60, 70, and 80 GHz and oxygen absorption in the atmosphere at 60 GHz. These characteristics restrict millimeter-wave signals to a few kilometers at the furthest.
This research is pushing not only for the development of high-frequency technologies, but also for accelerated progress toward 5G standards. In addition to its collaboration with Keysight, the University of Bristol is working with infrastructure companies—Samsung, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Intel, and Huawei—as well as wireless operators Orange and Telefonica and other universities and research institutes.
As 5G technologies are developed that can coexist with existing radio signals, this level of cooperation could smooth out the transition from fourth-generation (4G) networks. On this front, the project is seeking to develop self-backhauling and front-hauling capabilities in order to account for the evolving needs of network operators in a heterogeneous-network (HetNet) infrastructure.