Industry watchers have heard plenty of chatter about the blazing fast speeds that will accompany the advent of 5G. Consensus seems to indicate 1 Gbps is the next milestone on the map, but early tests from carriers like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular have managed to achieve some impressive numbers.
Keysight and the University of California San Diego racked up another impressive showing recently, hitting data rates of between 8 Gbps and 18 Gbps using a 64-element bidirectional phased array antenna.
According to the pair, the array was able to hit 12 Gbps at 0 degrees and more than 8 Gbps across all scan angles up to ±50 degrees in azimuth and +/-25 degrees in elevation. Those results were achieved using 28 GHz airwaves – spectrum that has been earmarked as a key 5G band – at link distances of 300 meters (nearly 1,00 feet). At closer distances, the 64-element array was able to crank out data rates of up to 18 Gbps. The results did not rely on any calibration on the array, the team reported.
For comparison, T-Mobile and AT&T have reached speeds of 12 Gbps and 10 Gbps in their respective tests with Ericsson, though the carriers didn’t say what spectrum bands were used in those experiments. U.S. Cellular and Sprint have also conducted tests with Ericsson, hitting 9 Gbps and 4 Gbps respectively on 15 GHz airwaves.
“UC San Diego has once again worked with Keysight to demonstrate high-performance phased-array 5G communication links, now achieving 8-12 Gbps links at long ranges and with low power consumption,” commented Gabriel M. Rebeiz, who is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and distinguished professor and wireless communications industry chair at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “Keysight’s equipment and software, along with the SBC18H3 technology from TowerJazz, have been instrumental to our success.”
Keysight and UC San Diego reported the bit-error-rate was less than 10-7 at maximum scan angles, and the array only consumed around 7-11 W of direct current power in either its transmit or receive modes. The latter was thanks to UC San Diego’s high-performance system-on-chip design that used a third-generation silicon germanium (SiGe BiCMOS SBC18H3) process from TowerJazz.
Additionally, UC San Diego utilized Keysight’s Signal Studio software to define and generate 16-QAM and 64-QAM waveforms, with both single and multiple carriers. Keysight’s 81199A Wideband Waveform Center software also helped the team link the Tx and Rx units as well as improve the error vector magnitude (EVM) performance. The team also used Keysight’s 89600 VSA software to perform demodulation, channel equalization, and analysis of advanced signals, the pair said.