mmWave radio heads target 5G NR prototyping

16th July 2018
Posted By : Mick Elliott

Two series of millimeter wave (mmWave) radio heads for the mmWave Transceiver System have been released by NI. The radio heads, which cover spectrum from 24.5GHz to 33.4GHz and 37GHz to 43.5GHz, are targeted at wireless researchers prototyping 5G New Radio (NR) systems.

As the first phase of 5G NR wraps up and the 3GPP finishes defining the communications protocol, the standards body also has identified specific frequency bands intended for 5G.

Additionally, various regulatory bodies across the globe have begun the process of allocating spectrum for mmWave 5G mobile access.

The coverage offered by these radio heads enables researchers in countries like the United States, South Korea, Japan, Europe and China to quickly prototype 5G systems at the different frequency bands being considered. 

In 2016, NI announced its mmWave Transceiver System, which features modular mmWave frequency software defined radio (SDR) technology designed for 5G and advanced wireless communications.

Since then, NI has continued to release new mmWave radio heads to provide additional frequency coverage in line with the 3GPP.

The new radio heads are completely compatible with the mmWave Transceiver System, including the baseband subsystem and software.

They are also interchangeable with the previously released radio mmWave heads, which means the existing software can be reused with minimal changes. 

The open, modifiable physical layer provided in the source code created using LabVIEW aligns with the Verizon 5G TF specification and Release 15 of 3GPP’s 5G NR specifications.

It also pairs with the mmWave Transceiver System to offer researchers a flexible solution that operates as an over-the-air communications system out of the box. They can modify the source code for their specific research areas and use it for a wide range of applications including channel sounding, 5G NR algorithm development and optimisation and beam steering algorithm research and test.  

 “The commercialisation of mmWave technology is accelerating, and there is a growing global consensus that it will be a critical technology to achieve the goals set forth by the 3GPP for 5G,” said Professor Theodore (Ted) Rappaport, founding director of NYU WIRELESS and the David Lee/Ernst Weber Professor of Electrical Engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. “While 28 GHz leads in early deployments, 39GHz is another important frequency band that is being explored and is quickly gaining popularity. These new radio heads from NI will help us expand mmWave research and expedite commercialisation.”


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