High-frequency wireless communications systems such as 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) and more are of particular interest to consumers because they can deliver data at extremely high speeds and provide an enhanced experience to existing wireless communications systems. Despite the many benefits of mmWave communication, there are several fundamental challenges in using it.
Santosh Ganji, a doctoral student in computer engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, works with his faculty advisor Dr. PR Kumar Designing New Beam Management Practices for 5G Wireless technology to address these issues and provide a reliable solution for mmWave communication.
Current mmWave communication devices use narrow focused beams to maintain connection, meaning the transmitter and receiver must constantly adjust their beam direction to maintain alignment as the user moves or walks around. In addition, the human body blocks the mmWave communication link from the transmission tower to the wireless device. To combat this, both the transmitter and receiver must maintain a backup that is not reflected in line of sight from surrounding surfaces to maintain the connection during jamming.
Beam management, which includes this beam adjustment and jam recovery, is vital to keep high-frequency communication systems running efficiently.
Ganji has developed two separate protocols for mmWave beam management. Its first, BeamSurfer, continuously aligns the beams used by the cell tower and wireless device so that they point at each other with minimal overhead and no special sensors required. It also bypasses pedestrian blockades by maintaining a backup no-line-of-sight beam that reflects off interior walls to maintain a connection during blockage. Terra, his other developed tool, does the same, but is specifically designed for outdoor environments. Rather than retaining an invisible beam that bounces off interior walls, Ganji uses the ground as a reflective surface. If a user moves far from a cell tower or is permanently blocked from it, Terra also seamlessly “handover”, ie switches the user through another cell tower.
Current research to address this problem uses cameras or sensors to monitor a user’s location, allowing the beams to be directed toward each other. But Ganji’s technology is capable of taking measurements within the signal without additional equipment.
“These protocols are designed to be useful in current 5G and future cellular technologies,” he said. “We expect that our work can be used in any future architecture for directional communication systems.”
Texas A&M University
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