Energy-efficient relay network maximises 5G communications

June 02, 2021 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Energy-efficient relay network maximises 5G communications
Battery-free transceiver enhances 5G connectivity by serving as a repeater between indoor and outdoor environments, improving user experiences and operational efficiency.

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a wirelessly powered relay network for 5G systems. The proposed battery-free communication addresses the challenges of flexible deployment of relay networks. This design is both economical and energy-efficient. Such advances in 5G communications will create tremendous opportunities for a wide range of sectors.

The ever-increasing demand for wireless data bandwidth shows no sign of slowing down in the near future. Millimeter wave, a short wavelength spectrum, has shown great potential in 5G communications and beyond. To leverage high-capacity millimeter-wave frequencies, phased-array antennas (antenna elements that work together to boost signal strength in a specific direction) are being adapted. However, the current use case is confined to line-of-sight propagation.

As a result, relay nodes are considered for non-line-of-sight communications. While relaying can provide improved bandwidth, coverage, and reliability, the flexible deployment of a relay network poses some challenges. The most significant challenge in relay networks is power supply.  A typical relay node has its own power supply unit or is connected to an external power source.

Fortunately, a team of scientists from Tokyo Tech, led by Prof. Kenichi Okada, have proposed a wirelessly-powered 28-GHz phased-array relay transceiver for the 5G network. Their work is scheduled for presentation in the 2021 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits.


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