Five technologies for building 5G | EDN

5G is widely considered a mobile technology that won’t be available until perhaps 2020 or 2021, and even then, not widely. 
Cisco predicts that by 2021, a 5G connection will generate 4.7 times more traffic than the average 4G connection.

5G will be a quantum leap from today’s LTE-Advanced networks. 


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Beamforming to expand 4G and 5G network capacities

    Most wireless subscribers believe all is well with their network coverage. The wireless industry knows the future tells a different story. 4G LTE has reached the theoretical limits of time and frequency resource utilization, while 5G will need new technology to meet its full potential.

    The wireless industry is working feverishly to open a new degree of freedom and space for enhancing network capacity and performance to address growing connectivity demands. Engineers are looking at spatial dimension innovations, falling under the category of space division multiple access (SDMA), that will help deliver significant network capacity and performance.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Agile Front Ends Assist Mobile Satcom Terminals

    Development of highly integrated antennas and radio front-ends at L- through Ka-band frequencies includes numerous examples of systems suitable for mobile satcom applications.

    Satellite communications (satcom) was once associated with fixed ground stations. But as wireless communications in its various forms truly becomes mobile, more advanced RF/microwave front-ends are being developed that are capable of tracking a satellite’s signals even as a ground terminal is mobile. A great deal of innovative design on these mobile satcom front-ends and antennas has been performed by IMST GmbH from L-band to Ka-band frequencies, using advanced beamforming techniques on compact MMIC devices.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Design a Diplexer for 275 to 500 GHz

    A waveguide diplexer combines different-frequency LOs to cover a total frequency range of 275 to 500 GHz for astronomy applications.

    Millimeter-wave frequencies and beyond are receiving a tremendous amount of attention for their expected application in 5G wireless communications systems. But heterodyne receivers at millimeter-wave and sub-millimeter-wave frequencies are already widely used for many scientific applications, including for remote sensing, security, and spectroscopy.

    Signal frequencies as high as 500 GHz, for example, are used in many astronomical applications. In support of those uses, researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (Tokyo) have developed a waveguide diplexer capable of combining local oscillator (LO) sources at different frequencies to achieve a single LO signal for the 275-to-500-GHz frequency range.

    The 275-to-500-GHz diplexer uses two different hybrid couplers to divide and combine the LO signals coming from the input sources at two different frequency bands.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Taking Steps to Boost Power Amp Efficiency

    High efficiency in a power amplifier depends on the types of input waveforms to be boosted and typically comes at the cost of other amplifier performance parameters, such as linearity or output power.

    Efficiency is often the difference between a power amplifier (PA) being selected or rejected for a particular application. Because higher-power PAs can require large amounts of bias energy to achieve a target output-power level, a difference in efficiency of just a few percent can mean a difference in the size and cost of a power supply for a particular PA. A basic overview of PA efficiency can also help to better understand how that efficiency can impact the overall performance of a system, as well as the performance of other PA parameters (notably linearity).

    An amplifier with high efficiency uses power-supply energy more effectively than an amplifier with lower efficiency. At lower efficiency levels, wasted power-supply energy is typically converted into heat at the amplifier’s active devices, which are increasingly gallium-nitride (GaN) transistors for RF/microwave PAs. GaN high-electron-mobility-transistor (HEMT) devices are noteworthy for a number of features that enable high-efficiency PAs at microwave frequencies

    Theoretically, the highest efficiency of 100% would result in an amplifier in which all of the applied DC bias energy is converted into the increase in signal waveform power. For a truly linear amplifier, the output signal waveforms would exactly resemble the input signal waveforms, with the increase in power level.

    some applied power-supply energy is lost as heat
    In addition, amplifier linearity usually suffers as a result of increased efficiency

    Over time, many different circuit formats have been developed with one or more active devices in attempts to achieve PAs with high efficiency and linearity, while also delivering as much output power and amplifier signal gain as possible. The circuit formats are known as Class A, B, C, D, E, and F configurations, with different biasing arrangements which provide different combinations of optimized key amplifier parameters.

    An ideal Class A amplifier has 50% efficiency when delivering peak envelope power (PEP)

    In a Class B amplifier, with as much as 78.5% efficiency at PEP. But it is less linear than a Class A amplifier

    A Class AB amplifier combines the two approaches
    As a result, it yields efficiency that is between 50% and 78.5% at PEP.

    In a Class C amplifier
    This biasing scheme results in efficiency that can approach 85%
    the linearity suffers. This amplifier class is effective for signals that turn on and off

    Class D and E amplifiers use multiple or single transistors, respectively, as switches to produce square-wave output-signal waveforms with high efficiency but poor linearity.

    In general, however, most suppliers do provide the amplifier class, typically, with Class A designs meant for high linearity and Class AB, C, or higher meant to provide higher efficiency. Practical performance levels are far from theoretical, with the PAE for many commercial Class AB amplifiers considered good when reaching or exceeding 25%.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The top 5 5G wireless technologies

    Two of the top five most important wireless technologies for 5G networks for 2018 are the same ones that have always been of paramount importance for 5G networks: MIMO and beamforming.

    MIMO and beamforming

    With LTE/4G, the industry is nearing theoretical limits of time and frequency utilization. The next step in wireless, with 5G, is exploiting the spatial dimension, using any given frequency simultaneously as often as possible by emitting rigorously focused signals in different directions.

    Millimeter wave (mmWave)

    The frequencies originally allocated for 5G maxed out at 6 GHz. Much of the spectrum most recently allocated for 5G services by various jurisdictions around the world are at various millimeter-wave frequencies.

    The mmWave range is 30 GHz to 300 GHz. New 5G allocations around the world range from the upper-20s (26 GHz and 28 GHz, for example; technically not mmWave but often lumped into the category), several bands in the 30s, and a few more in the 40s. There is a Wi-Fi band at 60 GHz that may be used for 5G wireless. Others at higher frequencies are under consideration.

    Lower power wide area network (LP-WAN)

    In many IoT applications, arrays of devices would connect via some wireless technology designed specifically for LP-WANs to a base station that would in turn connect with a high-speed, high bandwidth network. That network could be 5G, but it doesn’t have to be; 4G connectivity will sometimes be adequate – sometimes 3G will do.
    There are several LP-WAN options out there. They include LoRaWAN, Sigfox, Weightless, NarrowBand-IoT, LTE M, Ingenu, and Symphony Link. The next version of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, has a low-power option in the specification and might yet sneak into the mix.

    Mesh networking
    In some IoT applications, it will be useful to have a wireless transmission technology appropriate not only for connecting vast numbers of simple, cheap devices, but also for interconnecting them. This is where mesh networking comes in. Some of the LP-WAN options didn’t start out with support for mesh networking, but almost all of them have it now.

    Mesh is hardly unique to LP-WANs. It’s already being built into wireless LAN technologies. Zigbee and Thread started out as mesh technologies, Bluetooth has added it, and the next version of Wi-Fi will have it. This next version is called 802.11ax, aka Max. (Look at “11ax.” Now flop that first 1 so it’s facing the other way. See it?).
    Wireless mesh could certainly be useful in 5G.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Realizing 5G New Radio massive MIMO systems

    Massive MIMO, which depends on using a large array of antennas, is the keystone technology for realizing the improvement necessary to justify the evolution from 4G to 5G wireless networks.

    Fifth generation (5G) wireless access networks are being defined to meet the perpetual growth in demand for capacity and address new use cases and applications in 2020 and beyond. 5G New Radio (NR) targets up to 10Gbps peak data rates per user to offer enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services, which represents roughly 100× improvement over 4G networks.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Magic Component that Makes Wireless Work

    Two antenna technologies–MIMO and phased arrays–have emerged as the solution to many of the problems faced in implementing new wireless technologies like 5G cellular, Wi-Fi, and other high-speed digital standards.

    Today working at millimeter-wave frequencies, antennas are things you can hold in your hand and even smaller. While antenna technology is well known today, there is still an elusive quality about it. I call it black magic. And designing an antenna is the act of following well-known mathematical theories, cookbook techniques, and empirical processes. The empirical part is where the innovation comes and the black magic occurs.

    Microwave work has produced many innovative antenna types like the horn, parabolic dish, helical spirals, fractal, and many others. But two antenna technologies have emerged as the solution to many of the problems faced in implementing new wireless technologies like 5G cellular, Wi-Fi, and other high-speed digital standards. These technologies, as you probably know, are MIMO and phased arrays.

    MIMO uses multiple conventional antennas (and transceivers) to produce spectral diversity and multiplexing that in turn can boost data rate and reliability in a fixed bandwidth. Phased arrays are matrices of antennas to produce high gain and agile beamforming. It is these antenna technologies that are making 5G and other mmWave products possible.

    Phased arrays have been around for decades, mostly in military radar. The technology is generally well known, but the components to implement them are now highly developed, making smaller, better-than-ever phased arrays. At mmWave frequencies like 28 and 39 GHz, arrays are very small. Matrices of patch antennas can be fed with low-noise amplifiers, GaN power amps, direct conversion IC transceivers, and digitally controlled phase shifters to produce agile beamforming, and even multiple beams. At frequencies like 60 GHz and 77 GHz, the phased array antenna is small enough to be implemented at the chip level.

    Just a few recent product introductions illustrate the growth of the phased array and MIMO. For example, Analog Devices’ AD9371 dual RF transceiver makes it easier to build phased arrays with beamforming at frequencies up to 6 GHz. You can buy Anokiwave’s AWA-0134, a 256-element electronically scanned antenna for 28-GHz 5G applications. They make the front-end chips to implement 26-28 and 39 GHz arrays. Ethertronics’ EC477 Active Steering Processor and the EC624 Active Steering Antenna Switch provide support for up to 8 × 8 MIMO. Movandi makes a new RFIC front-end called BeamX that integrates RF, antenna, beamforming, and control algorithms into modular 5G millimeter wave solutions in 28- and 39-GHz versions. Look for more to come.


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