Wireless technology looks to disrupt how 5G base stations interconnect

2 min read

CEA and Spectronite, an innovator in wireless backhaul technology, have adapted and optimised CEA-Leti’s spectrally efficient waveform with enhanced spectral efficiency for Spectronite’s X-Series modem for 5G systems.

CEA-Leti is a technology research institute at CEA that is pioneering micro- and nanotechnologies, including radiofrequency technologies. Spectronite has developed a software-defined technology for wireless backhaul that allows for much longer and higher-capacity microwave links. The X-Series is its latest product line and is capable of achieving capacity up to 10Gb/s and can reach multi-gigabit transfers over distances up to 50km.

With this jointly developed radio technology, Spectronite said that it wants to disrupt the way operators interconnect 5G base stations. In the 5G rollout, operators are required to deploy an increasing number of base stations, each of them supporting a data rate multiplied by 10 compared to 4G base stations to address user expectations in a context of mobile-data usage doubling every 18 months. Backhaul links rely on either optical fibre or wireless communication.

E-band radios in the 80GHz frequency band can provide the required capacity for 5G backhaul over short distances in wireless applications, typically up to 5km. For longer distances, however, traditional radio architectures in the frequency range from 6GHz to 42GHz are limited by design in scaling. Spectronite’s software radio architecture is able to overcome this limitation by enabling intra-band, non-contiguous carrier aggregation up to 10Gb/s in these bands.

CEA-Leti’s patented optimisation used in the collaboration looks to provide a significantly higher spectral efficiency compared to traditional radios, while respecting spectrum emission masks imposed by ETSI standards.

The collaboration’s initial results show a data-rate increase of 20 percent compared to the conventional backhaul radio waveform. The increase in spectral efficiency provides throughput equivalent to a transmission with 8192QAM modulation, while the radio operates at 2048QAM modulation. CEA-Leti and Spectronite are now working on the technology transfer with an X-Series product targeted for Q4 2022.

“Our collaboration with Spectronite strategically leverages CEA-Leti’s Systems Division’s deep expertise in wireless communications for an application that can keep up with the continuous spiking of global mobile data usage,” said Sébastien Dauvé, CEA-Leti’s CEO. “This success underscores the flexibility of our technologies to meet the challenges of innovative startups, SMEs and large industrial companies.”

“While our software-defined microwave products allow mobile operators to roll-out 5G networks faster and at lower cost compared to fibre connectivity, our collaboration with CEA-Leti takes us an order of magnitude further, by reaching the highest level of spectral efficiency ever achieved in this industry,” said Jean-Philippe Fournier, Spectronite CEO. “With this unprecedented level of spectral efficiency, we provide huge savings to our customers on the cost of their spectrum rental licenses.”