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Partnership project makes progress towards supporting new generation mobile phone networks

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Developing a measurement framework for performance and radio exposure in wireless networks

Complex wireless technologies underpin the Internet of Things (IoT) and fifth and sixth generation (5G and 6G) mobile networks. These ‘new radio’ technologies require improved underpinning normative wireless standards for their radio signals, systems, and the transmission environments used, and for the radio frequency exposures created. Current telecommunications sector challenges include a lack of accurate, fast, low-cost, and traceable methods for manufacturers to demonstrate that 5G/6G product verifications match customer specifications.

Metrology Partnership project Metrology for emerging wireless standards (21NRM03, MEWS) is working towards developing the practical and efficient measurement methods required to enable normative standards for wireless channels up to sub-THz, and for radio frequency exposure assessment to better match rapidly emerging radio technologies for 5G/6G products and system over-the-air testing.

Recent progress

The project has designed and implemented a new traceable calibration concept for Absorbed Power Density (APD) probes for 24 GHz – 36 GHz and produced a new generation of APD probes for near-field measurements for the 24 GHz – 34 GHz range that will pave the way to future uptake by manufacturers and testing laboratories in the telecommunications field.

The APD is the new metric introduced in the 2020 release of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines for limiting exposure to electromagnetic fields from 6 GHz to 300 GHz. As with the specific absorption rate (SAR), for which international standards are well established, normative work is being carried out to produce an international standard for field exposure assessment above 6 GHz based on APD measurement. Establishing a traceable calibration of APD is an important achievement because it ensures reliability in measurements, which is essential for both manufacturers and testing laboratories in the telecommunications field. The near-field probe developed in the project will facilitate the implementation of APD measurements by simply extending existing exposure measurement systems already available for SAR assessment.

The results of this project will enable efficient and traceable measurements for wireless networks. This will accelerate the uptake and development of 5G/6G technology and improve human and environmental safety through improved understanding of RF exposure from wireless systems.

Project Coordinator Djamel Allal from LNE said

‘This development is directly linked to the preparation of a new international standard on procedures for measuring absorbed power density to assess human exposure to radio frequency fields from wireless communication devices operating between 6 GHz and 300 GHz, and gains particular significance in light of the rapid advancements of 5G technology and its applications, coupled with the future introduction of 6G technology’.

This Metrology Partnership project has received funding from the European Partnership on Metrology, co-financed by the European Union Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme and from the Participating States.

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