Flexible Radio for 5G Industrial IoT

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Abstract

The evolution of 5G communications is currently a hot topic in both industry and academic research. At the current time, however, much is yet to be established in the quest to realise this new standard in wireless communications. We know that 5G will offer higher data rates, support denser networks, and lower latency operation - but not how it will be implemented, operated and managed, nor in detail what performance and features it will offer.
Much of the focus on 5G has been on traditional mobile use cases, and the most demanding scenarios in terms of capacity - i.e. in densely populated cities, with users consuming significant amounts of data via smartphones and other connected devices. However, 5G is intended to be an umbrella technology that serves not just high data rate, consumer-mobile requirements, but also Internet of Things (IoT) applications (often with low data rates), as well as those demanding very low latency, reliable communications, such as transport infrastructure and vehicles. There will also be other emerging uses.
5G infrastructure and end-user radio equipment will require an inherent aspect of flexibility, in order to support the spectrum of operating modes required. One of the additional challenges is to ensure that everyone benefits - not just those living in cities and built-up areas - and therefore, 5G radios must be capable of enabling wide geographical coverage. It is significant that rural communities are currently underserved by 4G and preceding connectivity standards; ironically, these are usually the areas where the most unused radio spectrum is available, and this in itself provides potential for innovative solutions. Providing internet connectivity (for both people and things) in remote communities presents challenges in terms of the distances involved, as well as terrain, power, infrastructure, maintenance, and so on.
5G is an expansive research area, highly topical, and crucial to economic and social development in the UK and globally. This proposed research project will focus on one specific theme, namely the development of flexible radios for enabling IoT applications in rural and small community scenarios and consider strategies for network slicing, dynamic spectrum management, and other new and emerging methods.
Research areas within the project can initially be identified as:
1. What are the requirements of Rural / Small Community industrial IoT (RSCIIoT) applications likely to be? Research into use-cases and scenarios, performance needs etc.
2. Candidate communications for RSCIIoT - simulation and evaluation of physical layer communications schemes considering network slicing, dynamic spectrum management on licensed and unlicensed spectrum.
3. Inter-operability with other systems, including existing IoT candidate technologies like LoRa, SigFox, etc., and the potential to incorporate IoT radio into more fully functional 5G radios.
4. Implementation and prototyping of radios using FPGAs / SoCs, and SDR front-end hardware (this aspect of the research will focus on MathWorks design tools, Xilinx embedded devices, and Lime Microsystems SDR radios.)
5. Development of low-cost use models for rural and small community applications.
Other sub-themes may of course emerge during the course of the research.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513349/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2110803 Studentship EP/R513349/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Andrew Georgios MacLellan