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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 5GRANGE (Remote area Access Network for 5th GEneration)


5G is considered the next revolution in communication. Several researches focus efforts in tackling challenges for enhancing data rate, reducing latency and consumption and improving connectivity. However, one relevant mode that has not been strongly supported by the research...


5G is considered the next revolution in communication. Several researches focus efforts in tackling challenges for enhancing data rate, reducing latency and consumption and improving connectivity. However, one relevant mode that has not been strongly supported by the research efforts, is Internet access for remote areas. As of today, we estimate 1.4 billion of unconnected people living in areas where mobile broadband coverage is not available, showing the immense impact of a network that can deliver high quality Internet access in remote areas. It is clear that a sustainable rural service will not be available unless network deployments and business strategies are specifically tailored to this scenario. Integrating state of-the-art in mobile communication with business concepts of sharing economy would allow any local entrepreneur to become a profitable mobile rural infrastructure operator with extremely capillary commercialization and operating capabilities. The goal of 5G-RANGE is to surpass the limitations of current technologies, making the coverage of low populate areas a feasible business. We aim for a cell radius above 50 km with at least 100 Mbps at the edge, employing both licensed and unlicensed frequencies, while cognitive radio techniques will be used to protect incumbents. This new 5G mode needs to be flexible to comply with different applications and services. The current standards cannot use spectral wholes and have limited spectrum mobility. A new waveform needs to be considered and the mechanisms in the MAC and Network layers must use the features of this waveform in order to provide the desirable dynamic and fragmented spectrum allocation. The combination of an innovative PHY and a cognitive MAC will result in a 5G mode able to reach the unconnected people, not only in Brazil, but worldwide. This network will trigger new agribusiness services, bringing new revenues for different sectors of our society.

Work performed

One of the major goals of the 5G-RANGE is to conceive a 5G operation mode that can provide reliable coverage for applications in remote areas. In order to achieve this goal, the tasks are organized in work packages (WP). In WP 2, a list of core applications has been defined, covering the main requirements for a remote area network and with a set of requirements: the network must provide 100 Mbps at 50 km from the base station, support mobility of up 120 km/h and provide connectivity for Internet of Things devices.
The physical layer (PHY) is considered in WP 3 and its main objective is to design the transmit and receive chains to cover WP 2 applications. The PHY must also support the cognitive cycle for dynamic spectrum allocation. The baseline for the PHY design was the 5G new radio. However, since the 5G-RANGE will operate in TV white space and will cover long distances, the time-frequency frame has been redesigned to accommodate narrower subcarriers and longer symbols. Generalized Frequency Division Multiplexing has been selected as the waveform for the air interface because it presents high flexibility and covers Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing as a corner case. GFDM also presents very low out-of-band emissions, a critical feature for TVWS exploitation. For the channel coding, Polar Code has been selected due to its robustness and affordable complexity. The robustness of the system is assured by a Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) scheme that provides diversity gain to the aerial link.
WP 4 groups the tasks related to the cognitive media access control (CMAC), responsible for the opportunistic spectrum allocation. Different spectrum sensing technics, have been analyzed integrated with collaborative sensing. Performance evaluation in terms of probability of false alarm and probability of miss-detection shows that collaborative sensing is essential for protecting the incumbents. The base station is responsible for fusing the spectrum sensing report from all users into a global decision.
In WP 5, the researchers are defining the integration of the MAC layer with the 5G-Core. Two approaches are being considered today, the first one considering 5G-RANGE as a non-3GPP technology (and the network layer employing a gateway interface defined by 3GPP for this purpose) and the second one assuming 5G-RANGE as a 3GPP technology. WP 5 is also responsible for adjusting the transport layer to accommodate the throughput variation that may be caused by the abrupt change in the PHY capacity in case a primary user is in the bandwidth occupied by the 5G-RANGE network.
WP 6 is responsible for the Proof of Concept (PoC) and system integration. Several PHY blocks have been implemented using hardware description language and they are running in real-time with high throughput and are used for PHY performance evaluation. By using 12 MHz, 57 Mbps have been achieved 50 km from the transmit point. Since 5G-RANGE can use up to 24 MHz (3 European TV channel or 4 Brazilian), the 100 Mbps can be achieved if the transmit spectrum density is constant. WP 6 is now focused on software system integration and performance evaluation.

Final results

5G-RANGE is proposing innovative solutions in PHY, MAC and Networks layers. The new PHY allows the TVWS exploitation without causing harms to the incumbents. The 5G-RANGE out-of-band emissions are 40 dB below what common systems can achieve without RF filtering, so spectrum agility is achieved, meaning that the PHY layer can change its frequency if an incumbent user is detected in the TV channel used by the network. The spectrum sensing used in the cognitive cycle, in conjunction with the geolocation data base, can detect the presence of primary users in all candidate TV channels, including those in use by the 5G-RANGE network. Dynamic and fragmented spectrum is employed to use all chunks of available spectrum, increasing the capacity and spectral efficiency. In the network layer, an innovative data traffic control can prioritize the most sensitive dataflow, reducing the throughput of the less sensitive ones. These innovations combined results in a new 5G network, which can tackle all challenges to provide a reliable and feasible coverage in remote areas.
Social and economic benefits are significative. Remote education, e-health, e-gov, besides entertainment, communication and digital integration, are some of the benefits that will be available for remote areas. 5G-RANGE can also have positive impact on farms production introducing IoT in the fields. The 5G-RANGE flexible configuration can support a large set of smart-farms applications, from soil measurements and watering to the use of drones for pulverization. Logistics can also be improved with the use of 5G-RANGE. Agribusiness production flow can be improved by tracking the load displacement through a reliable road coverage. Data from trucks and trains, such as load weight, positioning, speed and fuel consumption can be used to plan routes to reduce costs and deliverable time. Some of these benefits can already be envisioned by the 5G-RANGE PoC demonstration, where a 5G-RANGE link is covering a rural school with Internet for broadband access, while supporting the IoT devices installed in a smart garden.

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