Waterford IT researcher looks beyond 5G with Terapod

Dr Alan Davy and Dr Sasitharan Balasubramaniam, Waterford Institute of Technology

14 September 2017

Researchers at Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications, Software and Systems Group (TSSG) are leading an EU-funded project to plot and plan the future of wireless technology.

Dr Alan Davy and his team will be joined by experts from across Europe and industry partner Dell EMC to work on the three-year project, Terapod.

Terapod will investigate, test and demonstrate the feasibility of an ultra-high bandwidth wireless network operating in the Terahertz (THz) band that is 1,000 times faster than 4G. The band is seen as the new frontier for wireless communication and the key to satisfying the increasing demand for higher speed wireless communication.

The resarchers’ work could affect how data centres operate by improving operational efficiency and geometric design of facilities into the future. Terapod will also lead to an exponential growth in scientific output and disclosure of THz communication research over the next 10 years.

“This is a massively prestigious project for TSSG to lead and it opens up a whole new horizon for us as a leading research hub and for Ireland as a whole,” said Dr Davy. “Our role in TSSG extends beyond coordination and into THz communication protocols at the physical and data link layer along with novel software defined network (SDN) management strategies The European Commission funded six projects to look beyond 5G and this flagship initiative is unrivalled.

“The saturation of wireless spectrum access is leading to innovations in areas such as spectrum resource usage. It is widely thought however that the low hanging fruits of innovation for wireless communication are all but exploited with only marginal gains possible. For a real step change towards the coveted 1Tb/s wireless transmission, new areas of the spectrum must be used. That is what Terapod is all about.”

A Terapod has coverage of approximately 10 meters, making it comparable to a femtocell. However, it could potentially deliver several times this. This will be demonstrated in a particular use case scenario of wireless network access in data centres.

“Data centres are ideal first adopter candidates as they provide controllable environmental conditions, which can be favourable for THz wave propagation such as a low moisture atmosphere, limited mobility and limited dynamic channel activity,” said Davy. “However simulation and modelling of other deployment settings will also be carried out such as homes, offices and factories.

“THz system component development for the purpose of imaging using techniques such as time domain spectroscopy (TDS) has come a long way over the last 10-15 years or so. However little has progressed beyond the development of devices to deliver a cost-effective THz communication system leveraging these components.

“The technical objectives of Terapod are to evaluate and assess the feasibility of both lab-based and commercial THz components for use within a THz-based communication system. We will survey, select, measure and test the system. We will also simulate, demonstrate and evaluate THz communication feasibility of up to 100Gb/s within a data centre setting as well as other relevant settings.

“We will also spec and evaluate a THz based Ultra High Bandwidth Access Network and address potential barriers to adoption such as standardisation and regulation. We will also be raising awareness and suggesting outreach of THz communication impacts such as workshops, tutorials, training, public engagement and more.”

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