ECIT to develop new cell-free alternative to cellular networks

  • A team is researchers is being put together in the ECIT at Queen's University Belfast to develop scalable cell-free alternatives to cellular phone networks.

    Current mobile networks are all based on the same cellular system, with cell masts distributed throughout the country and each phone connecting to the nearest one and the country being divided into a series of cells. This system has its flaws though, as the cellular networks are running out of capacity and mnay not be able to carry the kind of traffic that tomorrow's mobile infrastructure will need.

    Researcher Dr Hien Quoc Ngo from the Centre for Wireless Innovation at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT), has just been awarded a grant of £675,000 to build a team that will work on developing a new type of cell-free mobile network. The grant comes from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of its Future Leaders Fellowships scheme.

    Dr Ngo will be putting together a team of five to develop the new "cell-free massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output)" system, which is expected to increase the speed and reliability of the network while eliminating the cell structure limitations of today's networks. This should help to future-proof tomorrow's networks with increased capacity to deliver mobile data, and will help with everything from smartphones to IoT.

    Dr Ngo said "To date, mobile networks have been based on a cellular configuration where the land area is divided into cells, and each is served by a base station. However, cellular networks are running out of capacity and do not render themselves suitable for future wireless systems which will have to manage billions of devices at the same time, with many applications including machine-type communications; Internet of Things; Internet of Everything; and Smart Everything - it’s time for new technology."

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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