Massive MIMO technology used in the record-breaking experiment consists of 128 antennas

5G data transmission efficiency increased 12-fold

A new record for wireless data transmission has been achieved by European researchers using 5G technology known as massive MIMO.

Engineers at the University of Bristol, the UK, and the Swedish University of Lund in cooperation with technology company National Instruments have demonstrated wireless data transmission of 1.59Gbit/s.

This was achieved in a 20MHz channel and represents a 12-fold improvement over the fastest currently available 4G cellular technology.

MIMO is a multiple-antenna system used in existing Wi-Fi routers and 4G cellular phone networks. It usually relies on four antennas to cater for multipath propagation of the data signal. In massive MIMO, the number of antennas used in a single router is increased multiple times. The system used by the Bristol and Lund teams used 128 antennas.

"We see massive MIMO as the most promising 5G technology and we have pushed it forward together with partners in Bristol and in our EU project MAMMOET,” said Ove Edfors, professor of radio systems at Lund University. “It is a pleasure seeing those efforts materialise."

The demonstration has been conducted in the atrium of Bristol’s Society of Merchant Venturers building, using hardware provided to the University of Bristol as part of the Bristol Is Open programmable city infrastructure project funded jointly by Bristol City Council and the University of Bristol.

Bristol's Massive MIMO system operates at a carrier frequency of 3.5GHz and supports simultaneous wireless connectivity to up to 12 single antenna clients. Each client shares a common 20MHz radio channel. Complex digital signal processing algorithms unravel the individual data streams in the space domain seen by the antenna array.

Lund University has a similar set-up, the LuMaMi testbed, enabling researchers at both sites to work in parallel with their development.

"This is truly outstanding work putting Bristol at the forefront of 5G wireless connectivity," said Paul Wilson, managing director at Bristol Is Open. “We are looking forward to moving this facility outdoors in late 2016 as part of the BIO Harbourside deployment."

Twelve PhD students and eleven supervisors in Lund and Bristol have been included in the research project, which involved close interdisciplinary cooperation.

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