The evolution of antenna technology is a significant enabler of the increasing speeds of LTE, nascent 5G networks, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Antennas, historically, have been passive, but no longer. Dermot O’Shea, the co-founder and joint CEO of antenna vendor Taoglas, has four ideas on the direction of the antenna industry in 2017. Demand will grow, antennas will shrink, costs will drop and performance will grow. The most important driver will be the needs of the IoT, he wrote at Embedded Computing:
Antennas will play a huge role in the growth of the IoT as market growth demands more antennas in smaller spaces, at lower costs, and with increased performance. In the antenna market itself, we’ll see strides forward in terms of innovation in materials and design to keep pace with market demand. Continue to keep a close eye on where antenna manufacturers are focusing their attention to get a true gauge of market success.
Multiple in multiple out (MIMO) antennas will be one of the fastest evolving sectors. As the name implies, the concept behind MIMO is that the transmission of more than one signal can in various ways improve the experience of the end user. There is a lot happening on the MIMO front. Two examples:
Today, RCR Wireless reported that Signals Research Group has conducted a “4x4” MIMO test that yielded a 55 percent speed boost for two Samsung S7s on a live T-Mobile network. More specifically, the test used an Accuver Americas XCAL-M drive to push data rates for the two devices from 22.8 Mbps to 35.3 Mbps. The story says that the tests were configured in such a way that real-world increases may even be greater.
Yesterday, Yibada reported that The China Unicom Group and Huawei have successfully used Massive MIMO on a network running Frequency Division Duplex (FDD). Massive MIMO is based on great increases on the number of antennas used. FDD is transmission of data in both directions on different frequencies. The explanation is complex, but the bottom line is that the trial achieved a data rate of 697.3 Mbps, which is 4.8 times the capacity of the legacy approach.
Antenna technology is a linchpin of efforts to make communications clearer and faster. The signs are that the innovation is not slowing.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.