Intelligent Connectivity - 2019 MWC Los Angeles
Bringing AI and Wireless Together
Under the theme of Intelligent Connectivity, MWC19 Los Angeles showcased the convergence of Artificial Intelligence, IoT and Big Data enabled by 5G taking place Oct 22-24. This used to be CTIA but GSMA took it over recently so has re-branded it as MWC Los Angeles and they have MWC in Barcelona and Shanghai so cover the globe now with Barcelona being the marquee event.
MWC featured the mobile industry’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in driving gender inclusion with the Women4Tech program; positively impacting climate action, on the heels of the industry’s commitment to reach zero emissions; and through the Youth Mobile Festival in driving inclusive and quality education. They reported 22,000 total attendees from more than 100 countries, including over 225 media and industry analysts reporting the many developments coming out of the event.
Dynamic Spectrum Sharing was a big topic as this allows mobile networks to tranmit both 4G LTE and 5G signal over the same spectrum allowing a nice transition to 5G. This is especially critical in the low band where there are not a lot of users so dedicating just 5G usage there would be way too expensive to deploy. R&S gave a great technical talk on DSS to a packed room of interested attendees.
The other interesting topic for me is still the 5G mmWave module approaches that we have been following for a couple of years now. At the event, we saw Movandi and KT Corp. announced they will demonstrate an O-RAN 5G mmWave radio unit, Pivotal was doing a demonstration of their unit relaying a signal around a corner into an indoor unit, Sivers and NXP announced they will produce 5G NR RFICs and phased-array antennas, targeting applications such as fixed wireless access and Antenna Company showed me a polymer-based dielectric resonator phased array antenna technology that increases beam steering angles and gain for mmWave modules.
One of the most interesting events that took place at MWC19 Los Angeles was DARPA’s Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) as DARPA held the final elimination rounds on site Oct 23. As spectrum has become very scarce and expensive, DARPA wanted to see if artificial intelligence could manage radio resources automatically and enable faster speeds with our given resources. They challenged entrants to develop algorithms for wireless systems that can autonomously collaborate and work with each other to share the RF Spectrum. DARPA designed various scenarios of real-world situations to test the teams collaborate radio designs. The challenges were done on the world’s largest RF channel emulator called the Colosseum. It has 256 USRP X310 radios with a massive computer system to measure how the radio algorithms perform in each situation. The Colosseum has 900 TB of network attached storage, 171 high-performance servers, 18 10G switches, 25.6 GHz of instantaneous bandwidth, 52 TB/s digital RF data and 320 FPGAs.
SC2’s final 10 competitors and their AI-enabled radios went head-to-head during six rounds of competitive play. GatorWings, a team of undergraduate students, Ph.D. candidates, and professors from the University of Florida, were the winners of the SC2 3-year competition, taking home first place and the $2 million grand prize. It is hoped that this research will lead to wireless systems that can provide better efficiency of RF spectrum as some of the competitions showed about a 300% increase in spectrum utilization over what can be attained today. View the final round and awards below.
Here are the highlights from the companies we visited at the event or covered their news while on-site:
Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF) announced its 5G suite of wireless products, including MWR Series mmWave repeaters, ADXD Series digital DAS, and mmWave support for ADXV Series DAS. Key 5G product highlights include:
- MWR Series mmWave Repeaters: The first fully-integrated all-in-one mmWave RF repeater brings robust in-building wireless coverage for small to medium size venues, supporting the n261 band (27.5~28.35 GHz) and up to 800 MHz IBW.
- ADXD Series Digital DAS: ADXD DAS provides a fiber-to-the-edge (FTTX) option to support multi-carrier 4G LTE and 5G high capacity and coverage connectivity needs for in-building networks. The modular and future-proof design transports frequencies from 600 to 3700 MHz on a single hardware layer regardless of protocol or modulation.
- mmWave Support for ADXV Series DAS: ADRF's flagship DAS improves its best of breed flexibility and modularity to satisfy public safety, enterprise, and carrier needs on a single compact platform with the introduction of modules supporting 5G NR Band n261 (27.5~28.35 GHz).
Antenna Company announced the industry’s first 5G dielectric resonator phased antenna array designed specifically for 5G mm-wave applications. The 64-antenna DRA combines patented Antenna Company’s SuperShape™ and DRA technology to achieve wide-band operation over the 24-30 GHz frequency bands. The mm-wave DRA array demonstrates reduced scanning losses, lower sidelobe levels and greater maximum scan angle compared to a conventional patch array using the same configuration and inter-element separation. The design achieves over 40 dBm of peak EIRP, which is ideal for use in customer-premise-equipment (CPE) products. The design is scalable to support 37-40 GHz frequency bands for global band support across the mm-wave spectrum. We hope to have a lead article on this technology in our Feb issue.
Ericsson recently completed its acquisition of the antenna and filter division of Kathrein, a world leading provider of antenna and filter technologies with headquarters in Rosenheim, Germany. Ericsson will be providing its customers a broadened Ericsson Radio System offering. In addition to expanding Ericsson’s portfolio of antenna and filter products, the acquisition will bring vital competence necessary to evolve radio access products. Ericsson has gained R&D, production, and sales locations based in more than 20 locations including Germany, Romania, the U.S., Mexico, and China.
Movandi and KT Corporation announced that they will jointly demonstrate an O-RAN 5G millimeter wave radio unit. Multi-party collaboration with Xilinx and SOLiD (the leading O-RAN solution provider) allowed KT to develop a 5G mmWave radio unit that uses Movandi’s BeamX technology, including RF front-end, antennas and software algorithms. Movandi’s high performance 5G mmWave solutions provide the flexibility, scalability and performance to meet the needs of the O-RAN Alliance communities and requirements across a complete range of installations and applications, meeting the needs of tier 1 operators. They showed a demo at the event including a live link of the system.
Murata recently announced that it is working to develop an RF module solution for Terragraph, a gigabit wireless technology developed by Facebook that is designed to meet the growing demand for reliable, high-speed internet access in urban and suburban environments. Terragraph is enabled in part by placing millimeter-wave RF modules at 200 to 250 meter intervals between base stations. With Terragraph, construction takes less time to deploy at a lower cost when compared to a conventional network. This is accomplished by attaching set boxes that include millimeter-wave RF modules to objects such as streetlights, that are already ubiquitous in cities. Murata’s millimeter-wave RF modules use an independently developed LTCC that realizes stable communications quality in the millimeter-wave band and features both high heat and moisture resistance.
Nordic Semiconductor announced that cellular IoT products and applications can now be brought to market in days using the first publicly announced third-party modem to be based on the Nordic multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT nRF9160 System-in-Package (SiP). Called the 'Skywire®Nano', the NimbeLink modem enables this by having achieved 'end device certification' for use on both LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular IoT networks worldwide. This means any product or application using the modem doesn't have go through the normal carrier certification process.
NXP Semiconductors announced a new series of Layerscape Access processors, designed for 5G Access Edge applications. These new Layerscape Access processors target a variety of deployment scenarios compliant with O-RAN Alliance specifications, including Central Units/Distributed Units (CU/DU), Radio Units (RUs), along with Integrated Small Cells and Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) systems. From antenna-to-processor, NXP’s programmability, performance, and security products offer a flexibile portfolio of 5G technologies that scale from 2x2 RU systems to mMIMO arrays to 100 Gbps CU/DU platforms. These products include the NXP Airfast family of RF cellular multi-chip modules. To learn more visit, www.nxp.com/5G.
Pivatol Commware had a live Echo 5G demo set up at a nearby hotel using a mmWave gNB located around the block. They were relaying the signal around the corner of the building with their repeater unit and through the hotel window to demonstrate a 5G mobile connection with high data throughput. The Echo 5G Subscriber is a self-installable, on-the-window, precision beamforming repeater designed to counteract mmWave penetration, reflection, and structural shadowing losses so it can gently flood an interior with mmWave signal which has been a major challenge for mmWave signals. For fixed wireless access (FWA) providers serving homes and enterprises, the Echo 5G facilitates Gigabit speeds and introduces superior broadband choice. The compnay uses holographic beamforming that requires a single, simple, biased control component like a varactor or transistor at each element. This leads to a cost advantage of over 50x against MIMO or Phased Arrays. We hope to have a lead article on this technology in our Feb issue.
As a Chinese telecom test system supplier, RFLIGHT, was on hand to show off their PIM tester, millimeter-wave solid-state power amplifier and channel emulator. RFLIGHT also recently released some new products including an RF switch matrix, 5G MIMO test system and OTA test system.
Rohde & Schwarz recently supplied mobile network testing tools used in drone-based network coverage, performance and operation tests managed by Ericsson. The unique procedure enables 3D accessibility, positional accuracy and repeatability of the testing. It also opens up new possibilities to ensure end user Quality of Service (QoS) for demanding 5G use cases such as industry 4.0, automotive and public safety. The new system uses mobile network testing scanners and smartphones from Rohde & Schwarz mounted on a drone that can be programmed to execute automatic tests with considerable flexibility, for example for precise route selection and drone speed control. This solution is especially valuable for industrial use cases. It also has the advantages over traditional walk and drive tests by providing high repeatability and positional accuracy with the ability to verify beamforming and map coverage in 3D. The R&S TSMA6 network scanner is mounted on a drone and is able to simultaneously verify important LTE and 5G NR coverage metrics such as reference signal received power and signal-to-interference-plus-noise ratio in accordance with 3GPP standards. When combined with the R&S QualiPoc Android smartphone-based optimizer, IP trace, application QoS metrics such as serving cell parameters are possible. The solution currently uses LTE user equipment (UE) but will soon be further developed to include 5G UEs such as the Samsung S10 5G. View R&S demos for 5G OTA testing and emergency systems location testing below.
Siklu announced the general availability of its new EtherHaul™ 2-foot (61 cm) dual-band antenna (EH-ANT-2ft-DL5). This new antenna is designed to work seamlessly with Siklu’s ExtendMM™ feature on the EtherHaul™ 8010FX, 2500FX and other Siklu E-Band models. ExtendMM is a Siklu product suite consisting of the new dual-band antenna, software for monitoring and provisioning, a built-in switch in the EtherHaul™ radios, and purpose-built accessories, all of which are integrated with Siklu SmartHaul™ apps – such as LBC for link planning and WiNDE for network design. This system of hardware and software easily and seamlessly combines a high-capacity EtherHaul™ link with an inexpensive, unlicensed, low capacity and lower frequency link, such as 5, 11, 18 or 23 GHz. The net result is that customers can have confidence in engineering and extending their EtherHaul™ links to distances never considered before.
Skyworks launched the SKY66405-11, a 2.4 GHz front-end module (FEM) designed for Zigbee®, Thread, and Bluetooth® (including Low Energy) ultra-low power IoT applications spanning sensors, beacons, smart meters and thermostats, wireless cameras, smoke and CO detectors, wearables and medical wearables. The highly integrated multi-chip module comes in a compact form factor (1.9 x 1.9 x 0.56 mm) and provides increased efficiency as well as more than 4X range extension versus system-on-chip (SoC) alone. The solution includes a power amplifier, low-noise amplifier, low-loss bypass path, transmit and receive switches, and digital controls compatible with 1.6 V to 3.6 V CMOS levels. Its wide supply voltage range also allows the device to be used in battery powered IoT applications over a broad spectrum of the battery discharge curve and it covers worldwide unlicensed bands. Operating temperature ranges from -40 to 105° C, making this module suitable for lighting and industrial applications.
TMYTEK is a group of Taiwanese mmWave engineers that have designed a unique mmWave phased array box that you can use to prototype 5G systems. You can easier attached you own phased array antennas to the front end to test new designs and at MWC Los Angeles, they were also demonstrating how the phased array could be used to test a DUT by electronically scanning to great improve speed. View this video demo here to see how it works.
u‑blox announced its new ultra‑robust meter‑level M9 global positioning technology platform, designed for demanding automotive, telematics, and UAV applications. The M9 technology platform and the NEO‑M9N, the first module based on the platform, can receive signals from up to four GNSS constellations (GPS, Glonass, Beidou, and Galileo) concurrently, in order to achieve high positional accuracy even in difficult conditions such as deep urban canyons. The u‑blox M9 offers a position update rate of up to 25 Hz, enabling dynamic applications like UAVs to receive position information with low latency. The u‑blox M9 also features a special filtering against RF interference and jamming, spoofing detection, and advanced detection algorithms that enable it to report fraudulent attacks quickly so that users’ systems can react to them in a timely fashion. A SAW filter combined with an LNA in the RF path is integrated in the NEO‑M9N module. This setup guarantees normal operations even under strong RF interferences, for example when a cellular modem is co‑located with the radio.