IBM, Ericsson Collaborate on 5G Antenna Designs

Companies plan to develop phased-array antennas
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An essential part of “5G” wireless technology is an advanced antenna array that can create multiple beams to provide the optimum signal to users' devices. Ericsson and IBM recently announced they were collaborating on 5G antenna designs by researching phased-array antenna techniques and developing prototype systems.

The companies said the phased-array design will allow 100 antennas and radios on a single chip smaller than a credit card in size. This would indicate that IBM and Ericsson are looking at 5G systems using frequencies at 24 GHz or higher.

Thomas Norén, Head of Product Management Radio, Ericsson, said, “Ericsson is performing world-class radio research that will enable the extremely high data rates that will be required in the future. We have already showed 5 Gbps over-the-air in trials back in July. We are also working to solve the size barrier and look forward to developing antenna technology with IBM that will open up possibilities for new uses. We recently launched the industry's most flexible small cell, which allows for concurrent use of multiple technologies. Even with its tablet-sized footprint, the form-factor was limited by components inside. This research collaboration will help us enable mobile network builds that provide the right coverage and capacity even in the densest urban environment.”

New mobile standards have appeared every 10 years, starting with what could called “1G” in the 1980's, 2G in the 1990's, 3G in the 2000's, followed by 4G in recent years. Ericsson believes adoption of the next generation 5G will begin in 2020.

IBM Microelectronics has collaborated with Ericsson in the past. Dr. Mehmet Soyuer, Manager of the Communication and Computation Subsystems Department, IBM Research, said, “We have accumulated over 10 years of experience in developing radio frequency (RF) integrated circuit and packaging solutions, demonstrating highly integrated phased arrays for various applications. We look forward to collaborating with Ericsson to help shape the future of mobile communications.”