The quest for highly efficient 5G wireless connectivity has been given a boost thanks to a collaboration between a team of 5G engineers from the Universities of Bristol and Lund, National Instruments (NI), and BT, one of the world’s leading providers of communications services. The research team has undertaken field trials of a massive MIMO system at the BT Labs in Adastral Park, Suffolk. The trials were conducted in a large indoor hall mimicking a stadium environment and outdoors within the Adastral Park campus. The goals were to test massive MIMO spatial multiplexing indoors and improve the understanding of massive MIMO radio channels under mobile conditions with untethered devices. While carrying out these field experiments, the team obtained promising results indicating that this technology could offer spectrum efficiency figures in excess of the 100 bits/s/Hz mark, improving upon the capacity of today’s long term evolution (LTE) systems by ten times. It is expected that techniques such as massive MIMO, which offers full spatial multiplexing – where multiple data streams are transmitted at the same time and on the same radio channel –will become a crucial part of future 5G networks; the next generation of mobile technology.

Bristol and Lund universities are taking their record-setting research outside the lab in a field trial with British Telecom (BT) at its Adastral Park facility. The research team’s 128-element Massive MIMO system demonstrates that Massive MIMO technology can deliver ultra-fast data rates to many smartphones and tablets.Initial experiments took place in BT’s large exhibition hall and used 12 streams in a single 20MHz channel to show the real-time transmission and simultaneous reception of ten unique video streams, plus two other spatial channels demonstrating the full richness of spatial multiplexing supported by the system.

The system was also shown to support the simultaneous transmission of 24 user streams operating with 64QAM on the same radio channel with all modems synchronising over-the-air. It is believed that this is the first time such an experiment has been conducted with truly un-tethered devices, from which the team were able to infer a spectrum efficiency of just less than 100bit/s/Hz and a sum rate capacity of circa two Gbits/s in this single 20MHz wide channel.

In addition to the indoor trials, a series of outdoor experiments were conducted with the array at a height of around 20 metres. This enabled far field array characterisation, multi-element handset performance as well as experiments to improve the understanding of the massive MIMO radio channel under mobile conditions to be carried out.

NI Explore the leading perspectives and technology driving next-generation wireless communications systems and applications.with the documentary Wireless Communications—The Rise of 5G  explores the evolution and challenges that come with a more connected world. Gain insight from industry influencers on how the standards being defined will shape everything from healthcare and automation to autonomous vehicles and smart factories. Also see how leading wireless researchers from Nokia and universities such as NYU, Bristol, and Lund are approaching these challenges and adapting to the new 5G landscape.

Special National Instruments gvies an overview of Perspectives and Technology in 5G:

Massive MIMO

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mmWave Transceiver

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Wireless Communications Research

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SDR Hardware

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5G Wireless Using Massive MIMO and  SDR Research Handbook

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