EU project takes mm-waves beyond WiGig

September 11, 2014 // By Julien Happich
Launched at the beginning of 2014 for a duration of three years, the “MiWaveS” (Millimeter-Wave Small Cell Access and Backhauling) European collaborative project aims to develop millimeter-wave (mmW) radio technologies to enable multi-Gbps capable 5th Generation cellular mobile networks.

Taping both into the unlicensed 60 GHz and light-licensed 71-86 GHz E-band, the research project is looking at expanding mobile user access points with the development of small backhaul cells with data transmission capacities up to 10 Gbps for backhaul and 5 Gbps for mobile users.

A heterogeneous network integrating small backhaul cells within larger base station cells could offload data from the macro cells to the small cells while improving user data rate near these more densely installed access points.

The research will take existing 60GHz SiGe or CMOS technologies (such as that developed for WiGig or for automotive radars) and push them further by exploring different radio protocols and multi-module implementations with different antenna designs to shrink further existing backhaul cells and mobile-terminal radio transceivers.

In theory, the benefits for such an approach include a more flexible deployment in dense urban areas with a reduced transmit power (both from the terminals and from the base stations). But as well as defining new radio and antenna technologies, the MiWaveS project will have to tackle significant challenges on the system architecture, networking functions and algorithms, according to Dr. Laurent Dussopt, MiWaveS project manager and a research engineer at CEA-Leti.

“In order to go beyond the indoor WiGig range of a few meters, we'll have to rely on precise beam-forming through phased-array antennas” Dussopt told EETimes Europe in an interview.

“The small cells could use spatial multiplexing in order to focus different beams to different mobile terminals. This may be done sequentially, or in parallel, but this is where we’ll have to explore different architectures to find the right compromise between range, distributed data rates, but also energy efficiency and cost” he added.

“Today’s WiGig solutions use fairly large modules with phased-antenna arrays comprising from 32 to 48 elements”, says Dussopt. “We are looking at a multi-module approach, using smaller and more cost-effective chips in order to distribute the complexity and reliability of the small cells.

Such small cell access points could cost around a few tens of Euros, while the radio module to be integrated inside mobile terminals could be much simpler and cheaper”.