A new paper on wireless connectivity from the lab of Dinesh Bharadia, an affiliate of the UC San Diego Qualcomm Institute (QI) and faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering, presents a new technology for increasing 5G network reach and beyond millimeter wave (MW). mmWave).
“Power grids and mmWave/sub-THz networks share a remarkable similarity; both face fundamental challenges in effective distribution,” Bharadia said. “Just as power grids generate large amounts of power but face significant hurdles in efficiently delivering it to homes, using mmWave/sub-THz networks for seamless data communication presents a similar pitfall. Despite the bandwidth plentifully available in these spectra, efficient distribution of data Containing these spectra for users’ devices remains an enormous challenge.”
The paper, “mmFlexible: Flexible Directional Frequency Doubling for Multiuser mmWave Networks,” was presented by Ph.D. student and lead author Ish Kumar Jain at the IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications in New York on Wednesday, May 17.
With more automation, faster speeds, and processing power behind wireless networks, the infrastructure that connects people to these resources has declined.
Jain was drawn to the challenge of creating a device that could bridge this gap and give people greater access to the 5G mmWave network.
5G mmWave systems use radio frequencies to connect everything from “smart” cars to mobile devices and virtual reality devices to wireless networks. The progression from 4G to 5G enables faster speeds and higher bandwidth in general.
Part of the problem, Jin says, is that the jump from 4G to 5G has opened up far more resources and processing power than the current infrastructure can handle. mmWave systems are based on a “pencil beam” distribution model where the base station sends a single beam of coverage, like a highlight in the dark. Everyone inside that package has access to all the resources that a 5G mmWave network has to offer, regardless of whether their device can handle it or not.
This can result in a waste of bandwidth that would otherwise be useful to users in other regions. Even shifting that beam, such as slowly rotating a beacon at set intervals, creates a lag for those who fall outside its range.
To address the common issues of wasted bandwidth and lag, Jain and Rohith Reddy Vinam and Raghav Subbaraman Ph.D. Students at Bharadia’s Wireless Communication, Sensing and Networking Group (WCSNG), set out to determine if they could create an antenna array that would serve users in multiple directions without sacrificing distance and power.
The team designed a prototype device that works in concert with a new set of antennas to split a single frequency band into multiple usable beams. Dubbed a delay phased array, this antenna arrangement uses a massive amount of 5G mmWave bandwidth to connect multiple areas of the network and can be customized to provide greater connectivity to those who need it.
This new programmable array can also be built using existing technologies and scaled up with a very large number of antennas to support all future devices.
Through experiments conducted at QI’s Atkinson Hall on the UC San Diego campus, the team found that mmFlexible reduced lag by 60-150%.
“It’s very exciting to see new generations of apps coming,” Jin said. “But I feel, in the future, a number [wireless] hardware, as well as the demand for wireless spectrum. These are the main things that motivate me to explore these innovative technologies further.”