Late last year, technical thought leaders from academia and commercial organizations assembled in San Francisco to exchange insights on 5G NR, phased array antennas, and Over-the-Air (OTA) testing. Roger Nichols, Keysight’s 5G Program Manager, hosted the 5G Tech Connect event, which was timed to align with the publication of the first 3GPP 5G NR specifications. I was there to capture his insights on 5G along with other thought leaders’ reflections on technology challenges and I’ve collected their remarks into soundbites for you.
Roger, with his 33 years of engineering and management experience in wireless test and measurement, talked about the many challenges the industry is facing as we move towards the 5G NR standard. He made the point that the proliferation of frequency bands will make it necessary for devices to work across a wide range of fragmented bands leading to more complex designs and possible interaction issues. Also, the elimination of cables and connectors is leading to the need to measure and conduct testing Over-the-Air, which can be both costly and complex.
Another well-known and experienced industry expert, Moray Rumney, who leads Keysight’s strategic presence in standards organizations such as 3GPP, expanded on the implications 5G NR. He remarked that mmWave has much to offer in terms of wider bandwidths, but will also lead to challenges related to beamforming where narrow signals propagate in three-dimensional space. He claimed that such environments will require 3-D spatial test systems and simulation tools to enable equipment manufacturers to validate the performance of their designs. Moray further developed these ideas in his presentation ‘PRACH me if you can’, where he cheekily claimed that ”there is no meaning to the power of a signal if you are looking in the wrong direction.”
Professor Mischa Dohler of King’s College London, one of the many industry and academic thought leaders present at the event, talked about some of the challenges 5G technology will bring, such as delay. Since human response time is around 10 ms, round trip delay (latency) must be less. One way to reduce the delay is by adopting what he calls ’model-mediated AI,” which is already used by the gaming industry to predict hundreds of milliseconds ahead in time to create a real-time experience. Mischa also said that the expected explosion of traffic will inevitably lead to the need for a lot more bandwidth to allow networks address expectations on both data rates and latency.
I had the chance to sit down with Mischa to talk about some of the ideas he shared in his presentation. In this mini-interview, he summarized that since 5G will generate at least 10 Gbps data rates, enable eNodeBs to support 50 0000 UEs and create latencies of less than 10 ms, the technology will be good enough for a wide range of exciting industry applications. He also mentioned that virtualization is driven by the need for flexibility, which will require a software-based architecture.
Another industry thought leader, Maryam Rofougaran – Co-founder and Co-CEO of Movandi Corporation – explained that the move to mmWave frequencies implies new designs and innovations to create efficient integrated systems. Movandi uses Keysight’s solutions for modulation characterization and beamforming testing to verify their system.
To address some of these challenges, Keysight introduced at the event the world’s first 5G NR network emulator. Lucas Hansen, Senior Director, 5G & Chipset Business Segment at Keysight Technologies, explains how it enables users to prototype and develop 5G NR chipsets and devices.
Watch more videos from 5G Tech Connect on Keysight’s YouTube channel.