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Novel Antenna and Semiconductor Technology

Verizon 5G Small Cell Node_012223A
[Verizon 5G Small Cell Node - Circa]


- The Chip Industry Gets A Strong 5G Signal

5G will be significantly faster than 4G, delivering up to 20 Gigabits-per-second (Gbps) peak data rates and 100+ Megabits-per-second (Mbps) average data rates. It can support a 100x increase in traffic capacity and network efficiency, as well as deliver more instantaneous access with a 10x decrease in network latency over 4G. 

In short, 5G is the best technology for the massive amount of data that will be generated by sensors in cars, IoT devices, and a growing list of next-generation electronics.

The impacts of 5G on the semiconductor industry will be widespread. End-user devices and base stations will need to manage multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) and beam-steering technologies, which translate into more channels and expanded demand for bulk acoustic wave (BAW) filters, antennas, power management, and other devices.


- Antennas

An antenna is a transformer that transforms a guided wave propagating through a transmission line into an electromagnetic wave propagating in an unbounded medium (usually free space), or vice versa. A component in radio equipment that transmits or receives electromagnetic waves.

Engineering systems such as radio communication, radio, television, radar, navigation, electronic countermeasures, remote sensing, radio astronomy, etc., all use electromagnetic waves to transmit information, all rely on antennas to work.

In addition, when using electromagnetic waves to transmit energy, non-signal energy radiation also requires an antenna. Generally, antennas are reversible, that is, the same antenna can be used as both a transmitting antenna and a receiving antenna.

The essential characteristics of the transmit or receive parameters of the same antenna are the same. This is the reciprocity theorem for antennas.

The antenna radiates radio waves and receives radio waves, but what the transmitter enters the antenna through the feeder is not radio waves, and the receiving antenna cannot directly send radio waves to the receiver through the feeder, which must go through the energy conversion process.

At the transmitting end, the modulated high-frequency oscillating current (energy) generated by the transmitter enters the transmitting antenna through the feeder (the feeder can directly transmit current waves or electromagnetic waves depending on the frequency and form), and the transmitting antenna transmits the high-frequency current or guided wave (energy) Converted to radio waves - free electromagnetic waves (energy) radiate into surrounding space.

At the receiving end, radio waves (energy) are turned into high-frequency currents or guided waves (energy) through the receiving antenna and are transmitted to the receiver by the feeder equipment.

The antenna is not only a device for transmitting and receiving radio waves, but also an energy converter, and an interface device between circuits and space.


- Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO)  Antennas

MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) is an antenna technology for wireless communications in which multiple antennas are used at both the source (transmitter) and destination (receiver). The combination of antennas at both ends of the communication circuit allows data to be transmitted over multiple signal paths simultaneously, minimizing errors, optimizing data speed and increasing the capacity of radio transmissions.

Creating multiple versions of the same signal increases the signal-to-noise ratio and error rate by giving data more opportunities to reach the receiving antenna without being affected by fading. By increasing the capacity of radio frequency (RF) systems, MIMO creates more stable connections and less congestion.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) added MIMO to Release 8 of the mobile broadband standard. MIMO technology is widely used in Wi-Fi networks and cellular fourth-generation (4G) long-term evolution (LTE) and fifth-generation (5G) technologies, including law enforcement, broadcast television production, and government. It can also be used on wireless local area networks (WLANs) and is supported by all 802.11n wireless products.


[Alberta, Canada]

- Beam-steering Technology Takes Mobile Communications beyond 5G

Beam-steering is a technique for changing the direction of the main lobe of the radiation pattern. A new beam-steering antenna improves transmission efficiency and opens up frequencies for mobile communications that are inaccessible with current technology.

Beam-steering antenna technology has been developed to improve the efficiency of 5G (millimeter wave) and 6G fixed base station antennas, also for vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, vehicle radar and satellite communications.

In radio and radar systems, beam steering can be achieved by switching antenna elements or by changing the relative phase of the radio frequency signals driving the elements. In recent days, beam steering has played an important role in 5G communications due to the quasi-optical properties of 5G frequencies.


 Advanced Antenna Systems (AAS) Supercharging 5G Capabilities

Recent technology developments have made advanced antenna systems (AAS) a viable option for large scale deployments in existing 4G and future 5G mobile networks. AAS enables state-of-the-art beamforming and MIMO techniques that are powerful tools for improving end-user experience, capacity and coverage. As a result, AAS significantly enhances network performance in both uplink and downlink. 

Finding the most suitable AAS variants to achieve performance gains and cost efficiency in a specific network deployment requires an understanding of the characteristics of both AAS and of multi-antenna features. Specifically, we focus on how:  

  • Improvements in beamforming and beam management (beam switching, recovery and refinement) techniques increase coverage and capacity across more control and broadcast channels compared to LTE, with radio of up to 64 or more transceiver and antenna elements. 
  • Massive MIMO adds even more capacity without adding more antenna elements, due to increasing degrees of freedom an antenna array has available to modify a transmitted signal – even for multiple users and antennas. 
  • Advances in using millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum bands improves with fully integrated radio arrays that can include more than 100 transceiver and antenna elements. 
  • Use of spectrum below 6 GHz and in the mmWave range allow for significant improved coverage and capacity not possible through previous radio techniques. 
  • Different deployment scenarios can be based on network locations, services and use cases.


- AAS Deployment Scenarios

The new antenna technologies will work with both standalone and non-standalone versions of 5G New Radio (NR).  However, the emerging complexity of the 5G NRs require mobile network operators (MNOs) and equipment manufacturers to manage a toolbox of passive and active radio solutions in spectrum bands below 6 GHz. In deploying AAS, MNOs will need to consider several factors, including performance versus cost, Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) considerations and deployment constraints. 

In dense urban high-rise scenarios with tall buildings and high subscriber density, an AAS with beamforming capabilities in both vertical and horizontal directions is the most beneficial option. In suburban/rural scenarios, where vertical beamforming is usually not needed, the performance of a more cost efficient AAS with fewer radio chains is often sufficient. High AAS performance can be achieved without the need for many MIMO layers.  

A small number of AAS variants provide significant benefits across a very wide range of deployment scenarios, making it possible for MNOs to enjoy the benefits of cost-efficient AAS across their networks. As a result, the importance of AAS is likely to increase rapidly in future radio network deployments.



[More to come ...]


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