Measurements for 5G communication technologies
Satellite, fibre, and mobile communication networks are an essential part of modern life, with data transmission demand expanding at 40 % per year. To cope, the data carrying capacity of communication networks must expand. One cost effective solution would be to increase the existing system’s capacity and speed. As 4G networks upgrade to 5G and beyond, reliably achieving faster data processing requires greater measurement accuracy of transmission speeds and signal reception characteristics.
The EMRP project Metrology for optical and RF communication systems addressed fundamental challenges to improve the reliability of measurements for characterising communication components by increasing the accuracy of instrument calibrations. This supports the development and testing of very high bandwidth telecommunication products, suitable for extending the current systems data carrying capacity at a reasonable cost.
- Developed algorithms to improve calibration and real-time measurements made using oscilloscopes to ensure that communication system components can demonstrate that their performance meets specifications.
- Established a new calibration method for telecom RF receivers using the industry standard Long-Term Evolution wireless protocol. This new SI-traceability enables reliable measurements of mobile phone mast power, as user connections fluctuate throughout the day.
- Developed a new electro-optic field sensor and improved methods for characterising RF quiet zones during antenna power transmission testing at compact test set-ups. This reduces the need for complex corrections to instrument responses caused by sheltered areas or Quiet Zones, where transmission power measurements are reduced by shielding effects.
- Developed Measurement Best Practice Guidance for the reliable characterisation of components for 4G and future 5G communication networks.
Expanding the data carrying capability of communication systems already at capacity requires innovation in data transmission methods and the measurement infrastructure that underpins it. This project developed new European calibration and testing facilities to enable communication system suppliers to reliably demonstrate that component performance matches specifications - an essential requirement in determining overall system speeds.
The project increased interactions between NMI and European industrial stakeholders, such as that between LNE and Dassault for avionic and space antenna testing. The development of a novel device that simulates instrumentation under test also now enables accredited testing labs to demonstrate that calibration set-ups meet communication industry standards.