While the new 5G technology is at the first stages of rollout, Rohde & Schwarz, the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) are taking a step further with demonstrations in the THz frequency band, related to 6G. The collaboration has resulted in a wireless transmit and receive system operating between 270 and 320 GHz, with further frequency extensions for potential 6G bands already in preparation.
6G research is already underway in industry and academia. While 5G introduces mmWave frequencies with wider bandwidths for higher data rates and enables new applications such as in wireless factory automation (Industrial IoT) and for autonomous vehicles, the aim of 6G is to push the boundaries of transmission bandwidths even higher.
Although it is not clear yet which technologies 6G will entail, it is already apparent that frequency bandwidths need to be further increased to enable terabit class data rates. Wide contiguous frequency blocks can only be found at sub-THz and THz bands, i.e. in the frequency range above 100 GHz. The utilization of THz frequencies for 6G is estimated to become commercial in the next eight to 10 years. But Rohde & Schwarz has already presented a demonstrator setup for 300 GHz to customers. The system was also displayed at the EuMW 2019 in Paris as part of a workshop on mmWave and THz Wireless Communication, where it consisted of 300 GHz transceiver front-ends, the R&S SMW200A vector signal generator and R&S FSW43 signal and spectrum analyzer as well as of units for synchronization of transmitter and receiver.
Involved in the current collaboration are the Fraunhofer HHI and the Fraunhofer IAF. The HHI works on signal processing, synchronization between transmitter and receiver, and system integration. The IAF contributes with high performance mmWave transmitter and receiver modules. The joint research targets frequencies above 100 GHz, where the primary focus is on the D-Band (150 GHz) and the H-Band (300 GHz). Carrier frequencies above 300 GHz are still subject of fundamental research. A first demonstrator resulting from the research collaboration is a system allowing signal generation and signal analysis at 300 GHz with 2 GHz bandwidth. The signal can be arbitrary modulated for conducting transmission experiments with Beyond 5G candidate waveforms, which are appropriate for THz communication or for performing channel propagation measurements.
Dr. Taro Eichler, Wireless Market Segment manager at Rohde & Schwarz, said, "Rohde & Schwarz offers innovative, top-of-the-line tools for research during the early stages of 6G development. This allows us to engage in in-depth discussions with customers and to monitor the technical and market trends long before the commercialization of 6G. We are excited to partner with Fraunhofer HHI and IAF, benefiting from their leading expertise in development of mobile communication networks and systems, infrastructure and standards. We look forward to a fruitful partnership also in the future."
Dr. Wilhelm Keusgen, head of mm-Wave Group at Fraunhofer HHI, said, "As an institution committed to leveraging innovations for the digital society, Fraunhofer HHI is happy to partner with an innovative industry-leading T&M expert such as Rohde & Schwarz on the latest and upcoming communications technologies. Our cooperation has been rewarding and will pave the way for the development of 6G."
Dr. Michael Schlechtweg, head of Business Unit High Frequency Electronics at Fraunhofer IAF, said, "As one of the first global providers of chipsets and electronic components capable of reaching already now the high frequencies required by 6G, we are collaborating with valued partner Rohde & Schwarz at the very cutting edge of technology. IAF appreciates the mutually highly beneficial cooperation and is happy to continue exploring new innovations with Rohde & Schwarz."
Rohde & Schwarz builds its 6G research on a solid background of mobile communications test and measurement expertise, stretching from the early stages of 2G all the way up to and including 5G and beyond. Pioneering activities beyond 5G have already started about a year ago, when Rohde & Schwarz set up the world's first ultra-wideband channel sounder for mobile communications exceeding 100 GHz.