A team of 5G engineers from the Universities of Bristol and Lund has once again set a new world record for wireless spectrum efficiency, less than two months after setting the first one.
In an experiment using 128 base station antennas, the research group managed to serve 22 users, each modulated with 256-QAM, on the same time-frequency resource. With an identical frame structure they used in theprevious experiment, this would equate to a rate of 145.6 bits/s/Hz on a single 20 MHz radio channel.
The team beat its earlier record of 79.4 (bits/s)/Hz for 12 users set in March, and the rate of 71 (bits/s)/Hz that Facebook achieved for 24 users last month with its 96-antenna ARIES array.
The group’s latest achievement with massive multiple antenna MIMO arrays, which are cellular base stations with dozens of antennas deployed at the base station, shows that this technology could deliver ultra-fast data speeds to more smartphones and tablets than ever before.
Industry has said it will require a 1,000-fold increase in capacity in order for 5G to function as anticipated. Massive MIMO technology is important if increased capacity is to be reached but it is thought that much of the 5G capacity can and will come in the longer term from using 5G technologies such as millimetre-wave (mmWave) and beamforming.
“Unlike at mmWave frequencies, below 6GHz, very little new spectrum is anticipated for 5G services,” said Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of Engineering and Head of the CSN Group. “To meet capacity demands in the microwave bands the only solution is to deploy technologies offering radically enhanced spectral efficiency; hence the global importance of massive MIMO and the significance of smashing through the 100 bits/sec/Hz barrier.”
In its demonstration conducted in the atrium of Bristol’s Merchant Venturers Building, the team used flexible prototyping platform from National Instruments (NI) based on LabVIEW system design software and PXI hardware.
The hardware behind this demonstration was provided to Bristol University as part of Bristol Is Open, a joint venture with Bristol City Council that aims to become the world’s first Open Programmable City
Spectrum and power efficient wireless communications are core to Bristol University’sCommunication Systems and Networks (CSN) Group and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT in Communications as well as to the Department of Electrical and Information Technology at Lund University.
Liang Liu, Associate Professor with the Faculty of Engineering at Lund University, said: “In addition to investigating spectrum efficiency gains, an initial power control algorithm was tested, users were placed in different locations and use of the equipment over night to obtain calibration data for comparison purposes with the Lund set-up”
Fredrik Tufvesson, Professor of Radio Systems at Lund University, added: “Field trials in different deployment scenarios is needed to validate the concept of massive MIMO and we are looking forward to the future mobility test at both universities”
Ove Edfors, Professor of Radio Systems at Lund University, commented: “A true team work that with great results. Our postgraduate students Joao Vieira and Steffen Malkowsky did a great job together with the Bristol team, Paul Harris, Benny Chitambira Wael Boukley Hasan, Henry Brice, Siming Zhang and our host Mark Beach.”
Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Manager of the EPSRC CDT in Communications, explained: “Rapid deployment and experimentation of this scale and complexity was made possible through collaborative efforts of post graduate students and academic staff at both Universities. The results are a true testament of our efforts and a noteworthy contribution towards the evolution of 5G.”
Bristol is one of only two cities in the UK to be named as smart city ‘Leaders’, scoring 80.2 in the Smart Cities Index just behind London at 80.5
The UK’s first Smart Cities Index has named Bristol as the country’s leading smart city outside London and leader of the pack for digital innovation. The city is the highest performer in four out of 10 evaluation criteria: digital innovation, stakeholder engagement, projects implementation and delivery of digital strategy
The report by Chinese tech company Huawei compares and evaluates the 10 leading smart cities in the UK with the aim of celebrating best practice and identifying challenges which need to be overcome for cities to become smarter.
Bristol and London have set themselves apart from the others through their clarity, breadth and inclusiveness of their smart city visions and planning, and are leading the way in implementing significant projects at both the pilot and full-scale levels. The other eight cities have been identified as Contenders, Challengers and Followers.
Bristol is particularly strong in the digital innovation category, which evaluates the city’s strategy to develop and exploit digital technologies and services, scoring the top mark of 92 out of a possible 100 points. It also comes out top for stakeholder engagement, implementation of projects and delivery of the city’s digital strategy. Bristol’s overall score in the Smart Cities Index is 80.2, just behind London which scored 80.5.
Smart Cities is a term which is used to describe a city which uses technological innovation to deliver services in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable way. Smart cities are being built on an intelligent urban infrastructure of connected devices.
“To be named as the top city for digital innovation and one of only two smart city leaders in the UK is fantastic news for Bristol,” said Rick Chapman, high tech sector specialist at Invest Bristol and Bath – the inward investment agency for the region. “This is testament to the city’s extensive smart city strategy and ambitious goals but also to its commitment to delivering on projects and working well with communities and stakeholders to make them happen. Bristol is fast becoming known as a national and international digital hub and this report cements our position as leading the UK in this sector.”
Huawei has 15 offices across the UK and in 2014 chose Bristol to be its home for a new research & development centre because of its talent pool and position as a hub for cutting-edge innovation.
“Bristol is a city that is driving the UK’s digital agenda, highlighted by its pioneering smart cities innovations,” said Gordon Luo, CEO, Huawei UK. “We opened our Bristol R&D centre in 2014 as part of Huawei’s UK Innovation Programme, precisely because we were attracted by the highly-skilled technology professionals in the area and the city’s open mindset towards innovation. Our work researching ICT chips, software, and analogue chip technology in Bristol is genuinely world-class and is part of that city-wide drive towards a smarter, tech-driven future.”
Earlier this year, Bristol was identified as the most productive digital tech cluster in the UK according to the Tech Nation report. It was also named the only fast-growing and globally-significant high tech cluster in the UK by McKinsey & Co/Centre for Cities in 2014.
Huawei’s report also takes particular note of Bristol’s strengths in open data access, energy innovation and community engagement. For example, its Playable City initiative has brought together artists and designers from the UK and beyond to experiment and prototype playful interventions that use creative technologies to rethink public space (see case study below).
Clare Reddington, creative director at Watershed – Bristol’s cultural and digital creativity centre, says: “All over the world governments and technology companies are investing in smart systems for cities, using networks and sensors to join up services and collect data, as a drive for efficiency. Playable City is born out of Bristol’s unique take on people-centred technology solutions and the belief that our future cities need to be democratic, surprising and inclusive to remain relevant and engaging. We are delighted we have been able to take this uniquely Bristolian way of thinking and share it with the world.”
Download Huawei’s report HERE
The other cities identified in the report are Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Leeds, Peterborough, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Bristol City Council is inviting developers, app builders and others interested in improving the city to sign up for a workshop of digital exploration and innovation.
Participants will be able to make use of The Bristol API (application programming interface) developed by UrbanThings, an online platform which provides a huge amount of data such as live bus and train times, stop locations and route maps.
The event at the Watershed on Saturday 21 May is themed around a Cleaner, Leaner Bristol and seeks answers to the question: “How can we use data to help create a city that has better air quality, and has fewer single-occupancy vehicles guzzling gas and contributing to congestion?”
The organisers are encouraging participants to focus on the following areas:
- Making it easier to use electric vehicles by finding nearby free charging points
- Maximising the capacity of existing vehicles on the roads, whether this be buses, cars, or other vehicles
- Promoting the use of other sustainable forms of transport
The workshop is the second in a series of Challenge Events taking place throughout the year aimed at working with Bristol’s tech community to explore how data can be used in tackling various challenges around the city.
Stephen Hilton, Director of Bristol City Council’s Bristol Futures team, said: “Hosting a second Challenge Event shows there is a real appetite in Bristol’s tech community for using open data to create solutions to our urban issues. The first event was a huge success with the winners currently developing their app and we hope to see many more great ideas come out of the second event. Having UrbanThings on-board is a fantastic asset for us and they will be able to provide help and tips for anyone new attending on the day.”
UrbanThings will be present at the event together with other council representatives and there will be a cash prize again for the winners. The day is also a chance for participants to meet like-minded people and learn from others.
Carl Partridge, Director of UrbanThings, said: “We were really impressed with the high level of pitches at the first Challenge Event and by broadening the scope of this event we’re hoping to see some interesting responses to how we can make a Cleaner Leaner Bristol. Using The Bristol API in this way shows how vital having access to open data can be.”
Place are limited and you can register here