5G trial success could end mobile signal frustrations at stadiums

Researchers from the School of Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA) have been involved in trials of new 5G mobile network technologies that could end the frustrations of using a mobile device in high-density environments such as football stadiums or event arenas.

Currently, when large numbers of internet-connected devices are being used in a condensed area the demands on radio spectrum result ininterference that degrades the network quality, often leading to slow or unavailable network connections.

Given the high-bandwidth demand future applications on devices will require this problem will only become worse if not addressed.

However, in trials at the Suita football stadium in Osaka, Japan, the EU-Japan RAPID 5G consortium, involving researchers from EDA, were able to use 5G network technologies to solve this issue.

Specifically, they placed distributed antennas around the stadium and then used millimeter wave technology to direct the focus of 5G radio waves into specific areas of the stadium where spectators would be seated, thereby reducing interference and guaranteeing more available spectrum.

The hope is that the technology will be ready for deployment at the Olympics and Paralympics taking place in Tokyo in 2020 where huge numbers of smart devices will be in use within stadiums.

While the tests were successful the cost of distributing large numbers of antennas around a stadium would be high, so work to reduce the costs of manufacturing and installing such devices is required to make this feasible.

The results of this research were published at the 2017 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Conference on Antenna Measurements & Applications on December 4.

Previously the RAPID 5G consortium has tested the deployment of 5G network technology in a shopping centre in Warsaw, demonstrating its ability for high-speed indoor coverage with download speeds of 10Gb/s achieved.

RAPID 5G is a European Union-Japan Horizon 2020 research project which started in 2014 and is formed of universities, research institutes, telecom operators and infrastructure manufacturers.

The full membership of the consortium is: University of Duisburg-Essen, University of Kent, Corning, Siklu, Osaka University, Doshisha University, Hitachi Ltd., Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (Japan), Electronic Navigation Research Institute (Japan), Koden Technology & Information and Exatel.