Radio Stripes: re-thinking mobile networks
Ericsson is exploring the future with a concept base station to create truly ubiquitous connectivity. The Ericsson Radio Stripes concept offers high and robust radio performance and enables easy and flexible deployment of mobile networks.
From the earliest days of telephony through every generation of mobile technology, we have been nonstop innovators, maximizing value for our customers. Our engineers, researchers and scientists around the world set the industry agenda. Our technology thought leadership comes from cutting-edge research, innovation, and collaboration with academia, partners and pioneering customers.
As a technology thought leader, it is our responsibility to always seek answers to the following two questions:
- What will the world look like in the decade ahead from a technology point of view?
- Which technologies are most likely to place a significant demand on the future network?
With exponential evolution of key technologies such as 5G, edge computing, AI, automation and data capture, the pace of change is so fast that anyone who thinks they know what is coming next would be guessing rather than knowing.
Truly ubiquitous connectivity and performance with 5G, at last
The new frequencies and the corresponding shrinking form factors of antennas mean that high performing, high security connectivity can now be truly ubiquitous. Ericsson is currently pushing antenna development into the size of a small matchbox, and in our labs we are looking at how we could create antennas so small and flexible that we can integrate them into adhesive tape. We call them radio stripes and they could provide truly ubiquitous connectivity in certain areas.
Pål Frenger, Expert Radio Network Energy Performance at Ericsson Research is one of the inventors and researchers behind the concept.
Frenger says: "The area of antenna technology has been a driving force of technology disruption and innovation and this has given us the excellent mobile broadband services worldwide that we take for granted today.
"In the early 1G and 2G days, base stations and terminals had only one antenna, and today we deploy our 5G systems with hundreds of cooperating antenna elements creating systems with unprecedented capacity. Now we have entered the era of massive MIMO (multiple input and multiple output) antennas.
"We believe that the natural next step in this journey is to distribute antennas everywhere to serve the increasing demands of higher lower latency, reliability, and capacity."
Rapidly increasing data volumes will continue for the foreseeable future. The focus will be on enabling high data rates for everyone, rather than support for extremely high data rates that are only achievable under specific conditions or for specific users.
The Ericsson Radio Stripe system is a visionary concept where we have done a rethink of antennas and base stations. This revolutionary new mobile network design is super-distributed and has the potential to deliver better quality, as well as making for easier deployment. At a nearly invisible form factor, it enables truly ubiquitous high capacity radio everywhere.
It will be an ideal deployment solution for challenging outdoor and indoor areas such as dense city squares, malls/offices, stadiums, train stations, factories and warehouses.
At this year´s MWC Barcelona, we are showcasing this visionary concept. The demo is both theoretical and practical. A key element is realistic, pre-industrial PCB-stripes, which we will have in the form of mockups. It comes on rolls, and we will bring 2 kilometers to the event. We also have mockups of the antenna processing units (APUs) that will be attached to the stripe.
Distributed base stations
So far, all antenna systems in all radio deployments, not only mobile networks, have been represented by one point.
With Radio Stripes, we change that and distribute the antenna system over a stripe.
Another of the inventors and researchers behind the concept, Jan Hederén, Strategist at Ericsson 4G5G Development, says:
"Although a large-scale installation of distributed MIMO can provide excellent performance, it can also become an impractical and costly "spaghetti-monster" of cables in case dedicated cables are used to connect the antenna elements.
To be easy to deploy, we need to connect and integrate the antenna elements inside a single cable. We call this solution the "radio stripe" which is an easy way to create a large scale distributed, serial, and integrated antenna system." Says, also inventors and researcher behind the concept."
This visionary concept is an extension of how to build and enhance the capability of current networks. The Radio Stripe systems offers, so to say, new colors and flavors in how we increase the performance of mobile networks.
The Radio Stripe vision is focused on improvements to the reach and quality of radio connectivity in the access part of the mobile network. It shares all other resources (transport, baseband, management, core) with current mobile solutions.
With this demo we show innovative design thinking in a core area of the telecom business. Just like "concept phones" that have been on display at Mobile World Congress for decades, we will now show a "concept base station".
With this, we hope to give you all a glimpse of the future.