Looking back at the journey of wireless communications that started from the invention of land mobile radio to our current future of 5G communications that are still developing at a lightning pace, engineers have always struggled to follow the upcoming trends and 5G RF Design Challenges that dominated many of their design considerations.
Introduced in the early years of the 19th century where the wireless telegraph was first invented under the name radio-telegraphy, we have seen how this technology progress has shaped the current social structure.
With the current deployments of 5G going on in multiple countries, a vast amount of 5G testing in different structures is going on in full swing.
Since 5G specifications focus on mobile deployments using the non-standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR), its NSA utilizes an LTE anchor band for control, along with a 5G NR band to deliver faster data rates.
Since a key aspect of 5G technology is its ability to support Internet of Things (IoT) as well as industrial IoT (IIoT) applications, the designing of 5G infrastructure is revolving around two frequency ranges namely, sub-6-GHz frequencies and mmWave bands between 24 GHz and 39 GHz.
Therefore, Radio Frequency (RF) designs form an integral part while designing 5G networks that will subsequently get deployed in various base stations device to facilitate appropriate subscriber coverage.
Regardless of the numerous benefits, RF contributes in 5G deployments, engineers have to deal with certain 5G RF Design Challenges.
And before that, we must familiarize ourselves with what RF stands for in wireless communication and how is it significant in 5G RF Design Challenges and 5G deployment at the end.
Breakdown of RF & its Importance in Wireless Communication
Everyone must be acquainted with the word Wi-Fi, right?
So, without any further delay, let’s understand one basic notion that despite how much we rely on wireless technology, a majority of its consumers have no idea how Wi-Fi works!
To sum it up in layman language, Wi-Fi is made up of certain stations that transmit and receive data.
And these wireless transmissions are, in turn, made up of Radio Frequency (RF) signals, that travel using a variety of movement behaviors that are also called propagation behaviors.
RF communication originates when radio waves are generated from an RF transmitter and are then picked up by a receiver at another location.
In summary, we leverage antennas and transmitters to create an RF field that in turn, is used for various types of wireless communications and technologies.
Using RF Technology, 5G can easily operate on low frequencies as well as on HF ranges, that are commonly known as mmWaves.
Since the higher the frequency, the higher the data transfer speeds could be possible.
5G RF Design Challenges
Presenting major advancements in communications technology, 5G RF Design Challenges include:
- Massive MIMO and beam-steering as well as beam forming are required in base stations to obtain multi-gigabit data rates.
- Unprecedented bandwidth, with carriers ranging from 100 MHz wide in FR1 and 400 MHz in FR2.
- Generation of huge bandwidth with new waveforms creates very high peak-to-power ratios that requires high linearity.
Another 5G RF Design Challenges that hamper the 5G deployment is due to the cost of upgrading infrastructure and user equipment.
Since many manufacturers and operators need to balance the cost and complexity of adding 5G RF content against the performance benefits so these considerations will also factor into their technology choices.
Dual connectively presents another part of 5G RF Design Challenges as new NSA carrier aggregation combinations utilize multiple 4G FDD-LTE anchor bands jointly with a 5G band.
As this RF filtering becomes complex, it is needed to achieve the requisite attenuation that can further lead to increased insertion loss, requiring higher PA output power.
Another 5G RF Design Challenges that we come across is the presence of multiple FR1 bands that exist at frequencies that includes 3.3 GHz up to 4.9 GHz and due to this growth in frequency, the performance of RF power technologies begins to diminish.
This 5G RF Design Challenges require minimizing insertion loss and the resulting increase in the Rx chain noise figure, while also maximizing power handling in an integrated module.
Though one cannot achieve results without setbacks, 5G RF Design Challenges allow the operators and engineers to venture into more complex terrains that could be conquered only with innovative solutions while also considering the cost and complexity of the infrastructure.