Researchers developed a solution to enable 5G connectivity that is ultra-fast and reliable at the same time.
Faster wireless technologies face two common challenges: they offer good download speeds with very limited coverage, or widespread coverage with speeds not faster than today’s fourth generation technology.
Researchers from University of California San Diego combine widespread coverage and faster speed to enable 5G connectivity that is ultra-fast and reliable at the same time. The team will present their work at the ACM SIGCOMM 2021 conference.
One of the hurdles that is throttling back the commercialization of 5G connectivity is the millimeter wave signals property. They get easily blocked by walls, people, trees and other obstacles.
Currently, 5G systems communicate by sending a pulse of laser-like millimeter wave beams between a base station and a receiver. The problem is that when these wave gets blocked by an obstacle, connection gets blocked completely.
“Relying on a single beam creates a single point of failure,” said Dinesh Bharadia, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, who is the senior author on the ACM SIGCOMM paper.
To solve this issue, researchers came up with a solution which involves splitting a laser-like wave beam into multiple beams, and make each beam take different paths from the base station to the receiver. This improves the probability that at least one beam will make its way to the receiver without any obstacles.
Researchers created the system and tested it inside an office and outside a building on campus. It provided a high throughput connection (up to 800 Mbps) with 100% reliability. In outdoor tests, the system provided connectivity up to 80 meters.
They created algorithms for splitting the beam and transmitting them on different paths. Some of these paths take a direct shot from the base station and the receiver; and some paths take an indirect route, where the beams bounce off what are called reflectors present in the environment. The algorithm learns which are the best paths in the given environment, and optimizes the angle, phase and power of the beam so that a strong beam is received at the receiver.
“You would think that splitting the beam would reduce the throughput or quality of the signal,” Bharadia said. “But with the way that we’ve designed our algorithms, it turns out mathematically that our multi-beam system gives you a higher throughput while transmitting the same amount of power overall as a single-beam system.”
“You don’t need any new hardware to do this,” said Ish Jain, an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student in Bharadia’s lab and the first author of the paper. “Our algorithms are all compliant with current 5G protocols.”
The work can be accessed on ACM Digital Library.