Before small cell technology took its place as a central component to realizing the promise of 5G networks, it played an important role in helping to improve the coverage and capacity of 4G. These mini base stations could be installed in discrete locations like on buildings or streetlights and became part of heterogeneous networks—together with traditional macro base stations—to improve service in high-traffic locations such as sporting events and concert venues. In this pursuit, small cells have proven valuable for extending signal penetration and increasing wireless density and these small, lightweight devices will continue to be a key technology for the data-intensive transition to 5G.
The Wilkinson Power Divider, designed by Ernest Wilkinson in the 1960s, uses quarter wave transformers to split an input signal into two equal phase output signals. Since the design is reciprocal, Wilkinson Power Dividers can also be used as a power combiner. With this flexibility, they are widely used in many RF and microwave communication systems, including those with multiple channels or complex feed networks.
Recently, Microwave Journal editors Pat Hindle and Gary Lerude sat down with Knowles Precision Devices product line manager Tim Brauner to discuss how our innovative high-performance components are helping RF engineers improve the size, weight, and performance (SWaP) of mmWave designs.
As the demand for more network capacity, improved network performance, and more reliable coverage are all growing, operating in the mmWave spectrum is becoming an increasing more attractive option. To address this demand, the use of 28-GHz small cells, which are compact, lightweight devices mounted on outdoor equipment such as lampposts or telephone poles, is becoming a practical and affordable way to deploy 5G in the mmWave spectrum.
When selecting a filter implementation, one factor that is common across all frequencies is optimizing the size of the filter given the application and the required performance. At mmWave frequencies this can be prove to be a particularly interesting problem, given the change in the physical dimensions of the system as one moves from say 600MHz to 38GHz.
Over time, the telephone replaced the telegraph, and now cellular and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology are replacing the landline. However, as more communication is done wirelessly and over the Internet, we are becoming more interested in increased bandwidth. This is because bandwidth places a limit on how quickly we can send information through a channel such as an optical fiber or a section of the radio spectrum.
With more than 2,000 satellites currently orbiting the Earth, and that number expected to quintuple in the next 10 years, the demand for space-ready components is exponentially increasing (Figure 1). At the same time, the technology needed to control and transmit satellite data has changed from mechanically controlled parabolic or dish technology to active electronically steered arrays (AESAs).
Around the world, 2019 was a busy year for 5G, with standards being finalized, large networks beginning 5G operations, and mobile device manufacturers releasing 5G-capable phones. Just one year after the official launch of 5G on November 1, 2018, the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) identified the launch of 50 commercial 5G networks along with 328 operators in 109 countries that announced investment in 5G. Let’s look at some of the big moments for 5G from 2019.
In the race to implement mainstream 5G wireless communication, the world is waiting to see if this next-generation network will achieve a hundredfold increase in user data rates. This transformative technology not only boosts performance for the latest cell phones, but also for fixed wireless access (FWA) networks and Internet of Things (IoT) smart devices. In order to reach 10 Gbps peak data rates, the increase in channel capacity must come from somewhere. A key innovation at the heart of 5G is utilizing new frequencies greater than 20 GHz in the millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, which offers the most dramatic increase in available bandwidth.
RF Filters are an integral part of radio systems, required for keeping the right signals ‘in’ and the wrong signals ‘out’ on both the Transmit and Receive sides of the system.