Ultra-high speed wireless networks

1 min read

IMDEA Networks researchers have developed a communications architecture for future ultrafast wireless networks that it says will enable data rates previously only possible with optical fibre.

Facebook initiated the Terragraph project that uses a mesh of reconfigurable mmWave links to provide reliable, high-speed Internet access in urban and suburban environments. It previously experimented with networks of solar-powered drones with mmWave backhaul and interconnection links to provide connectivity in areas with little infrastructure.

The Loon project by Alphabet (Google) uses high-altitude balloons with mmmWave links for the same purpose.

mmWave technology also has extremely interesting properties for large scale networks of small satellites to provide world-wide connectivity, such as the planned Starlink network of SpaceX and PointView Tech (Facebook), and is very likely to be used in such networks.

As density and capacity of such types of networks increases, the scalability results of this ERC project will be of high practical relevance.

"The ground breaking protocols and algorithms we have developed provide key elements for the scalability of future wireless networks," says Joerg Widmer. "In analogy to the evolution of wired Ethernet from a shared medium to a fully switched network, we envision that future wireless networks will consist of many highly directional LOS (line-of-sight) channels for communication between access points (APs) and end devices".

Thus, the architecture of future mmWave networks will be characterised by being ultra-dense and highly scalable. "In order to deal with the extremely dynamic radio environments where channels may appear and disappear over very short time intervals, SEARCHLIGHT uses angle information to rapidly align the directional mmWave antennas," explains Dr. Widmer. "The architecture integrates a location system and learns a map of the radio environment, which allows to rapidly select the most suitable access point and antenna beam pattern and allocate radio resource using predicted location as context information. Access points are deployed ubiquitously to provide continuous connectivity even in face of mobility and blockage and the project developed very low overhead network management mechanisms to cope with the high device density."