In a few years’ time, everyone will probably switch from the current 4G Internet to 5G and later to 6G, leading to data rates that by 2025 will be as much as 100 times higher than they are today. This means that the antennas on the base stations – which have to operate tens to hundreds of mobile users at the same time – will have to exchange far greater amounts of information than they do today. The technology to do this is now being developed.
Series of coupled antennas
The group of Prof. Dr. Bart Smolders has developed a new antenna technology that allows future base stations to be connected wirelessly with each other at extremely high data rates by using a whole series of electronically coupled antennas. These steer the radio beams in the right direction, so that dishes with these antennas do not have to move physically in order to change the direction of transmission.
This technology uses very little energy and can continue to function optimally in all weather conditions, as electronic control can adapt directly to wind and rain disturbances. The electronic beam control ensures that no cables are needed in the ground and that the system can be electronically configured, making it very easy to temporarily expand network capacity, for example at a major event.
TU/e-spinoff MaxWaves will commercialize this system for future 5G networks, and the Take-off feasibility study will build a new prototype that is more advanced than the two prototypes previously built. This will be tested experimentally in the lab and on the TU/e campus, and a market analysis will be carried out to arrive at a business plan.