Laser-powered 5G base stations could become an operational reality in a few years using technology from Seattle-based PowerLight Technologies.\n\n5G resources\n\nWhat is 5G? Fast wireless technology for enterprises and phones\nHow 5G frequency affects range and speed\nPrivate 5G can solve some problems that Wi-Fi can\u2019t\nPrivate 5G keeps Whirlpool driverless vehicles rolling\n5G can make for cost-effective private backhaul\nCBRS can bring private 5G to enterprises\n\n\nIn trials, PowerLight\u2019s system transmitted \u201chundreds of watts over hundreds of meters through the air\u201d to power up a 5G cellular base station, according to Ericsson, which ran the demo in cooperation with PowerLight using an Ericsson Streetmacro 6701 base station. (It consumes a maximum of 300W.)\nPowerLight COO Bob Zak said he expects the systems to be commercially available within 24 to 36 months. \u201cWe\u2019ve tested it out to a kilometer\u2026but the goal is multiple kilowatts over multiple kilometers,\u201d according to the company's president and CEO Richard Gustafson.\nEricsson says the system could make for faster rollouts of base stations by making it unnecessary to provide wired power. It could also help to rapidly establish wireless coverage in emergencies or to support temporary uses such as festivals and sporting events, according to an article by Ericsson.\nThe system consists of a laser transmitter that generates an infrared beam to a receiver that captures it with a photovoltaic cell that in turn converts the light to electricity that can be used immediately or stored. It uses beam shaping to optimize the laser energy, minimize loss as it\u2019s transmitted, and maximize output at the other end, according to the company website.\nA safety system shuts down the laser within milliseconds if an object nears the path of the beam, then restores the beam when the object moves away. In in the demonstration, a battery backup kept the base station powered up when the beam shut down temporarily after a pole was moved through its path.\nThe US military has been interested in the system at least since 2019 when PowerLight demonstrated it at the US Naval Warfare Center in Maryland. During that demo, the laser beamed 400W across 325 meters, according to a US Naval Research Laboratory article.\nIf the technology advances enough, potential uses include recharging electric drones while they are in flight and providing power to military outposts from solar arrays orbiting Earth, according to the article. During the demonstration in Maryland, the electricity generated by the photovoltaic cells was converted into DC power then AC power by an inverter.\nPowerLight is also working on an outgrowth of the technology that uses fiber-optic cable as a medium over which to transmit laser power. The company said this would have advantages over delivering power via copper wiring because fiber doesn't give off an electrical signature and is lighter than copper, and.\nThe company, founded in 2007 as LaserMotive, said it is testing the system with multiple other partners.