Here at NI we always strive to move technology forward, and we’re happy to announce another step on the path toward technological progress: we've collaborated with AT&T on one of the world’s fastest and most accurate tools for 5G Millimeter Wave (mmWave) channel characterization.
Channel measurements capture how wireless signals are affected in a given environment. They can show how signals reflect-off of, or are blocked by, objects, such as trees, buildings, cars and even people.
This tool will help lay the foundation for the architecture and design of new wireless networks and will likely play a role in AT&T’s future 5G deployment. Creating accurate models will help map out the details of where network equipment goes to provide customers with the best possible mobile experience.
The new channel sounder, nicknamed internally within AT&T as the “Porcupine,” is a first-of-its kind instrument, one of the world’s fastest and most accurate tools for 5G mmWave channel characterization. It utilizes an architecture based on our mmWave Transceiver System (MTS), providing several key advantages:
Allows angle-of-arrival (AoA) measurements that would typically take 15 minutes or more to be completed (using pan-tilt units) to be performed within 150 milliseconds and display the results in real-time.
Uniquely captures channel measurements where all the data is acquired and processed in real-time. Other channel sounding approaches capture raw data and post process to characterize the channel while only giving one-measurement every 15 minutes. The “Porcupine” on the other hand can provide about 6,000 measurements in that time.
Real-time measurement capability eliminates the need to repeat experiments or to adjust the equipment to take multiple measurements from one location. Using other approaches, an entire evaluation day could potentially be lost if the collected data is post-processed.
The “Porcupine” also allows the measurement of 5G mmWave frequencies via drive testing – a capability has previously remained out of reach for other mmWave channel sounders. As the 5G ecosystem looks at new use cases for 5G such as assisted driving, connected car, self-driving cars and more, the ability to study and model vehicular channels will become ever more critical.
The mmWave spectrum is quickly becoming the standard for 5G mobile networks, and will help aid with even greater precision than we have today. There are unique challenges in monitoring the mmWave spectrum, and our platform is paving the way to solve them.