For more than 20 years academics from the University of Bristol have played a key role in the development of wireless communications. In particular, they have contributed to the development of today's Wi-Fi and cellular standards. Two Bristol engineers, who are leaders in this field, have been invited to a meeting of technology leaders to discuss the future of wireless communications. The first "Brooklyn 5G Summit" will be held next week [April 23-25] in New York, USA.
Andrew Nix, Professor of Wireless Communication Systems and Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering will represent the University and the UK at the international event.
Fifteen years ago global research began to unlock the benefits of antenna sectorisation and smart antenna solutions. At Bristol, the Communication Systems and Networks Group began work on the TSUNAMI (Technology in Smart antennas for UNiversal Advanced Mobile Infrastructure) series of EU projects. This included spatial channel characterisation and the construction of Space Division Multiple Access (SDMA) demonstrators.
The introduction of multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) signal processing heralded the introduction of numerous new models and measurement techniques. It became necessary to analyse the time dynamic structure of the matrix channel and its relationship with multipath spread and transmit/receive array geometry. Bristol's ray tracing models were enhanced to support 3D polarimetric antenna patterns and operation in picocells, as well as macrocells.
Professors Andrew Nix and Mark Beach said: "At the summit we will explore the challenges introduced by 5G+ network designs. The rise of data traffic growth will see disruptive new technologies emerging in the mmWave bands (60-90GHz). Smart antennas for backhaul and mobile access are now required to overcome the challenges of path loss and dynamic shadowing.
"We have entered a new phase of channel measurement and modelling. The race is now on to characterise urban mmWave channels and to use the resulting data to develop efficient 5G networks by 2020."
Today the interest in 3D channel models has intensified. In the quest to maximise capacity, new systems are looking to exploit both the azimuth and elevation domains, especially in small cells. In partnership with NSN, Bristol's latest ray tracer, which models every building and tree over 150 square kilometres of London, has helped define the structure and parameters of the new 3GPP 3D channel model. This model is being used within the industry to quantify transformational technologies such as 3D beamforming and massive MIMO.