The Next Generation of Wireless

Researchers at Notre Dame’s Wireless Institute and at National Instruments (NI) have entered into a research partnership that will accelerate innovations in future generations of wireless technology.

The researchers will join National Instrument’s RF (radio frequency)/Communications Lead User program to support their development of fourth-generation (4G) and beyond 4G technologies, initially focusing on relaying techniques in the context of the Long Term Evolution (LTE)-Advanced standard.

The Wireless Institute, which is housed in Notre Dame’s College of Engineering, is a leading multidisciplinary research center focusing on wireless technology, economics and regulatory policy that actively collaborates with industry and government agencies to address major challenges and develop solutions of great impact on society.

Current cellular networks set up direct communications between mobile handsets and network base stations, which are very expensive and connected to a core wired network. Relaying allows intermediate nodes to assist communications between the mobile handsets and base stations, enabling improvements in network coverage and capacity, especially for mobile handsets farther away from a base station. Relays also have the potential advantages of being less expensive and more portable than base stations, which makes them easier to deploy rapidly as demand for voice and data services grow.

“NI’s Lead User program and combined hardware and software platform for wireless experimentation is an ideal foundation on which to build such advanced investigation of evolving wireless standards because the physical layer is closely based on the current LTE standard,” Nick Laneman, director of the Wireless Institute, said. “This platform allows us to develop and experiment with prototype LTE-Advanced devices supporting relevant bandwidths, data rates modulation techniques and relaying schemes.”

One area of research explores the trade-off between end-to-end delay and reliability in relaying, focusing specifically on optimizing relay processing to provide the best trade-off. The use of relays can result in increased delays due to the need to traverse an additional wireless hop. To mitigate this problem, a number of novel low-latency relay processing schemes have been developed and are to be experimentally validated using the Lead User setup.

Another area of research is opportunistic communication, which provides increased data rates in advanced wireless standards by dynamically scheduling the user with the strongest channel for a given resource. Relays provide additional flexibility in scheduling, creating the possibility of further opportunistic gains that can compensate for the loss in spectral efficiency entailed by relaying backhaul links. Experimental results from this type of scheduling will be analyzed to explore how relays can be intelligently deployed within the context of LTE-Advanced standard.

NI’s RF/Communications program was established in 2010 with a primary goal of advancing next-generation wireless research using NI tools and technologies. All projects accepted into the program possess a distinct emphasis on system prototyping. Researchers in the program gain access to NI’s leading-edge tools and technologies as well as the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from academia, industry and NI’s wireless experts conducting similar investigations. Since 2010, NI has collaborated on more than 20 projects from 14 academic and industry institutions with more than 20 research papers published.

Since 1976, National Instruments has equipped engineers and scientists with tools that accelerate productivity, innovation and discovery. NI’s graphical system design approach to engineering provides an integrated software and hardware platform that speeds the development of any system needing measurement and control.


 by Bob Quakenbush

Posted In: Features