EMPIR project provides input to new and updated IEC communication standards

Smart city communication network

Developing the measurement capability for future communication networks in Europe

The project

The digital transformation of European industry is one of the key strategies of the European Commission (EC) and communications technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5th generation (5G) and are playing a very important role in this. The rollout of the global 5G communications infrastructure is now well underway in several parts of the world and will continue for much of this decade as more and more countries have access to this new global network. 5G subscriptions are expected to grow from 1 billion by the end of this year to 4.4 billion by 2027 and 5G is expected to carry nearly half of the world’s mobile data by 2027.

In the context of future communications such as 5G or Connected Autonomous Vehicles a number of new challenges and requirements is placed on the Radio Frequency (RF) systems, modules and components. European manufacturers of telecommunications equipment and operators are facing the demands of higher data rates, less energy consumption as well as the demand for their devices operating at higher frequencies.

EMPIR project RF Measurements for future communications applications (20IND03, FutureCom) is working to develop measurement methods to support European industry in meeting these requirements. The devices will be assessed under real-world operating conditions and harsh environmental influences, such as those found in orbital satellites. Also, new methodology will be developed to measure the detrimental effects caused by high component density.

One of the objectives of this EMPIR project is the development and validation of novel measurement methods to evaluate the Passive Intermodulation (PIM) of RF electrical signals used in communications systems.

New and revised IEC standards

PIM is an unwanted mixing effect caused by nonlinearities in passive components along the RF path of the communication systems. Nowadays, components of telecommunication base stations and radar systems must fulfil stringent PIM requirements. Manufacturers of high-frequency components like cables, connectors and antennas are testing and specifying the PIM performance of their products. There are various PIM measurement systems on the market which produce inconsistent results.

New measurement set-ups that will be developed in the framework of this EMPIR project will enable National Metrology Institutes to gather and extend their expertise in the field measurement methods of Passive Intermodulation.

To provide the industry with a solid basis for the evaluation of its components and measurement methods, project partner PTB, Germany’s National Metrology Institute, is involved in the international standardisation board IEC TC 46. In the last quarterly meetings of the IEC TC46 following input from the project existing standards were revised and new standards were finalised.

The following existing standards were updated and published in November 2021:

In addition, the following new standards were published in November 2022:

Project participant and leader of the work package, Friederike Stein from PTB, entitled ‘Measurement methods for passive intermodulation in communication systems’ said

‘Passive inter-modulation (PIM) has become a relevant obstacle that can lead to a drop in the data rate transmitted by the base stations of the telecommunications system. FutureCom is working on the development of reliable and reproducible PIM measurement capabilities in Europe to meet the industry demand for assessment and validation of their devices before they are integrated into the communication system.
In this context, the project has carried out specific PIM measurement activities by National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) and Radio Frequency (RF) component manufacturers, which will lead to comparable PIM measurements within the European industry. This work package has developed a traceable PIM measurement system, the first of its kind in the world. The project will also perform investigation for the impact of the environmental conditions on PIM measurement.’

Project Coordinator Dilbagh Singh from NPL said

‘FutureCom project has already started making contributions to the project stakeholders by providing traceable and reliable new measurements to European industries and inputs to relevant standards. The combined outputs from four technical work packages will have significant impact on system efficiency, resulting in reduced energy consumption and improved data output in future communications’

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.


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