NEC Corporation, BT and EE will work with the University of Salford as a research partner to undertake the most thorough testing yet into the performance of vital millimetre wave mobile backhaul technology for 4G and 5G networks.
With smaller cell sites set to play an integral role in meeting the capacity, latency and throughput requirements of future 4G and 5G networks, mobile backhaul is a growing challenge.
To meet this challenge, NEC, BT and EE have teamed up to test the performance of V-band point-to-point mobile backhaul, using millimetre wave spectrum in the 60GHz band. The test will focus largely on how these links may stand up to the rigours of the British weather.
Using the University of Salford as a base, the companies have created a test bed to measure the performance of the V-band radio system over a 12-month period when exposed to rain, wind, fog and ice. The University has installed a radio system complete with transceivers and antennas on the Newton Science and Engineering building and the Maxwell Building at its Peel Park Campus and will monitor transmissions at the test site from now until early 2018.
"This will be one of the most detailed tests of this type done anywhere in the world to date, so we are delighted it will be hosted in Salford with our partners NEC, BT and EE," explained Nigel Linge, professor of telecommunications, University of Salford.
"Millimetre wave point to point links operate at very high frequencies to transmit high volumes of data over relatively short distances. However, the high frequency does mean that it is possibly affected by climatic conditions – the question being by how much. This is a vital technology for the future of 4G and 5G networks, so this research can play a major part in influencing deployment in years to come."
Stephen Walthew, Manager – Transport Networks at NEC Europe, said Salford was a perfect choice for the testing: "We were looking for an urban area, somewhere the weather is very variable and where there is expertise in network engineering. Given our long-standing relationship with Professor Linge and his colleagues, we are delighted the University of Salford can host the tests.
"The 60GHz connection has the opportunity to become the solution of choice for high capacity backhauling, so the more scientific evidence we can collect about its performance, the better we can make decisions about design and deployment."
Professor Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect at BT, said, "V-band radio systems have great potential as a backhaul solution for small cells within a heterogeneous network. We are delighted to be cooperating with NEC and the University of Salford to validate the achievable network performance of this exciting technology in a real-world environment.
"This is the most extensive testing we’ve ever undertaken. Having a full year’s worth of results against a diverse range of weather and atmospheric conditions will provide a critical input to our future network strategy and architecture."