Get ready for faster-than-5G wireless

Terahertz transmitters are being developed that could send data at over 100Gbps.

Get ready for faster-than-5G wireless

For those waiting for 10Gbps to 20Gbps 5G wireless, possibly due around 2018 on millimeter frequencies, think again, what you’re really going to want is 6G. It’ll be faster.

And 6G may be on the horizon. A terahertz (Thz) transmitter is being developed that scientists say will transmit data at over 10Gbps using 300GHz frequencies. The 300GHz band is higher-up the spectrum than 5G is likely to use.

Plus, it will do those speeds on more than one channel. Aggregating the channels could provide over 100Gbps—faster than 5G is expected to be.

For comparison, equipment maker Huawei says it has successfully tested 5G at 3.6Gbps in the field. It used sub-6GHz frequencies.

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Nokia has obtained 10Gbps on 73GHz; and Samsung has gotten 7.5Gbps on the 28GHz millimeter band in its 5G tests.

However, the Hiroshima scientists think that the best solution is to go higher up the spectrum.

“Data rates 10 times higher than current technology allows” could be obtained at 300GHz, the scientists, from Hiroshima University say in their press release.

One channel speeds of 10Gbps would be in line with the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) concept that 5G network throughput should range between 10Gbps to 20Gbps. ITU is in charge of worldwide spectrum allocation.

But the Hiroshima scientists reckon 100Gbps will be available with their system.

Wireless

A CMOS integrated circuit is behind the tech for the THz radio. CMOS chips are power-friendly and don’t create much heat.

That microprocessor technology would be advantageous “for commercialization and consumer use,” the team say in their press release.

The frequency range from 275GHz to 305GHz, which is where the Hiroshima scientists’ chip operates, isn’t currently allocated to any formal radio use by officials, the researchers explain. So it’s wide open to anyone who can figure out how to use it.

There should be limited interference from other users and there’s plenty of available bandwidth—if you can make it work.

And that’s always been the problem with these kinds of high-up-the-spectrum frequencies. They take special radios and antennas. That’s one reason why 5G is taking so long to come to market.

Normal radios don’t work, partly because the signals get lost, they’re so small. Even water particles in fog can interrupt a signal’s path at millimeter frequencies, and THz is higher-up the spectrum than that.

However, “since the speed of a wireless link is proportional to the bandwidth in use, THz is ideally suited to ultrahigh-speed communications,” the researchers reckon—there’s plenty of bandwidth there.

Quadrature amplitude modulation

“Today, most wireless communication technologies use lower frequencies at 5GHz or below,” the university says.

Those lower frequencies use “high-order digital modulation schemes, such as the quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), to enhance data rates within limited bandwidths available.”

However, “the research group has successfully demonstrated that QAM is feasible at 300GHz with CMOS,” it says. Their chip can do it, they reckon.

If that’s the case, the THz wireless technology could provide plenty of speed.

“THz wireless technology is armed with very wide bandwidths and QAM-capability. The use of QAM was a key to achieving 100 gigabits per second at 300GHz,” says Professor Minoru Fujishima, of Hiroshima University, in the press release.

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