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Antenna Assessment Boosts 5G Network Capacity

The big word in communications technology for 2019 will be 5G. To help advance this, researchers have shown how a novel antenna evaluation method can boost 5G network capacity as well as cutting operation costs.

Physicists, from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, have come up with a new way for assessing optimal antenna designs that will be ready for future fifth-generation (5G) cellphones, together with wireless devices and base stations. This is based on a review of the performance of different antenna beam patterns.

5G is set to improve communications considerably. Future communications systems will be able to bypass crowded conventional wireless channels through the use of higher, millimeter-wave frequency bands. The main benefits of 5G are expected to be that it will be much faster, possibly as much as 100 times faster. 5G will also have much lower latency, which means the user of a device will see very little delay or lag (in the region of milliseconds). 5G performance targets also include energy saving cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity.

The development of 5G involves firms like Qualcomm, Huawei, and Intel for modem technology; plus, Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, Cisco, and Samsung for infrastructure. Worldwide commercial launch is expected in 2019 or 2020. The U.S., China and South Korea are expected to be some of the first nations to install full 5G networks.

One developmental concern with 5G is that transmissions at the required frequencies could lose a lot of energy, which would weaken received signal strength. A solution being tested at the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the use of “smart” antennas that can form unusually narrow beams (which refers to the area in space where signals are transmitted or received). The use of such devices should address energy loss. To address this, the researchers have developed an omnidirectional antenna pattern which is capable of covering all angles equally.

According to researcher Kate Remley: “Our new method could reduce costs by enabling greater success with initial network design, eliminating much of the trial and error that is now required.”

She adds: “The method also would foster the use of new base stations that transmit to several users either simultaneously or in rapid succession without one antenna beam interfering with another. This, in turn, would increase network capacity and reduce costs with higher reliability.”

Details have been published in IEEE Communications Magazine, with the paper headed: “Millimeter-Wave Radio Channels vs. Synthetic Beamwidth.”― Digital Journal

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