Thursday, April 13, 2017

AT&T teams with NI on mmWave Channel Characterisation

NI, a provider of platform-based systems to engineers and scientists, announced collaboration with AT&T to deliver fast and accurate tools for 5G millimetre Wave (mmWave) channel characterisation.

NI noted that with mmWave frequencies set to feature in future 5G systems, having been identified by the FCC, 3GPP and other standardisation bodies for use in 5G mobile networks. As a result, there will be a requirement for tools that can measure channel performance to show how wireless signals are affected in a specific environment, for example, how signals reflect off, or are blocked by, objects such as trees and buildings.

This means that wireless channel characterisation is key for wireless researchers defining 5G technologies as they work to design next generation wireless networks. As a leading company in the development of 5G, AT&T is working with NI to create accurate models that will help it to map out where network equipment needs to be sited to provide customers with a quality mobile experience.

As part of this effort, AT&T has developed a channel sounder, named internally the Porcupine, which is believed to be the first product of its kind and is proprietary to AT&T. The channel sounder provides real-time channel parameter measurement and monitoring capability utilising an architecture based on NI's mmWave Transceiver System.

The solution was developed using the NI mmWave Transceiver System and LabVIEW design software, which enabled AT&T and NI to define and develop an advanced channel measurement system, with the PXIe and LabVIEW FPGA providing the bandwidth, data and signal processing capability needed to meet the requirements of mmWave testing for 5G.

The one-of-a-kind design is claimed to provide a number of advantages, including allowing angle-of-arrival (AoA) measurements that would typically take at least 15 minutes to be completed using pan-tilt units to be performed within 150 milliseconds, with results displayed in real-time.

The AT&T channel sounder is designed to capture channel measurements where all the data is acquired and processed in real-time, whereas other approaches capture raw data and post-process it to characterise the channel, while delivering one-measurement every 15 minutes. In contrast, the Porcupine can provide approximately 6,000 measurements over the same period.


AT&T noted that the real-time measurement capability can eliminate the need to repeat experiments or to adjust the equipment to take multiple measurements from one location. For example, the Porcupine allows the measurement of 5G mmWave frequencies via drive testing, which has not previously been possible.

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