Compared to today’s 4G networks, 5G can deliver data up to 100 times faster, with latency roughly 200 times lower. All of this makes it a very exciting technology that’s well-equipped to serve ever-increasing demands for faster speeds and more data.
To successfully roll it out, though, 5G requires brand new infrastructure to deploy. Service providers need to install new equipment and technology to enable 5G networks, including components like small cells and multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas. To keep all this infrastructure up and running, service providers need a way to troubleshoot potential issues without incurring high maintenance costs.
One affordable solution? Motion tracking and sensor fusion.
Deploying More Infrastructure for 5G
More 5G small cells and MIMO antennas need to be deployed to cover the same area that older technologies currently cover. This is because of the difference in wavelength between 4G and 5G. 5G uses high frequency (GHz range) millimeter wavelengths, which are shorter than 4Gs MHz frequency signals. The shorter wavelengths allow 5G networks to carry significantly more data than 4G.
The drawback is that the range that 5G wavelengths can cover is also shorter – about 2% of 4G’s range. To ensure a reliable 5G signal, service providers need to install more cell towers and antennas, to carry it across greater distances. MIMO antennas will need to be deployed at every base station, plus existing public infrastructure utility poles, like traffic lights, and streetlights.
How to Ensure Uptime for 5G Networks
The challenge for service providers is ensuring uptime for all of this new infrastructure for 5G networks, without incurring major expenses for field services, diagnostics and repairs. The sheer volume of antennas being deployed means that 5G providers will need to find an efficient way to diagnose and repair issues when they arise.
Because so many antennas need to be installed in more active areas, not just cell towers, there’s also a greater chance that they’ll be affected by humans, animals, or the weather. And when an antenna’s orientation is changed, the high frequency signal is not being received in full and is weakened. If a company doesn’t have any information on the position of their antenna, but only know that the signal is weaker, it can be tricky to diagnose. Losing the signal completely would be simpler.
It becomes costly for service providers to send out a truck and technician every time a signal is weakened just to diagnose the problem. There are a few factors that can quickly add up and raise cost of ownership and maintenance:
- Time and wages for laborers
- Man hours
- Insurance for the repair vehicle
- Wear and tear on the vehicle
Reducing Field Service Costs with Motion Tracking
With a remote diagnostic solution, service providers can reduce the number of field service trips and cut down on these costs. A nine-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) that uses software to fuse sensor data together can determine the orientation and absolute heading of the antenna.
Motion tracking can’t be used to diagnose every problem remotely, but it can definitely help cut down on truck rolls and field services needed. If it looks like the orientation of an antenna has not changed, yet the signal is lost, then we know it’s not related to position. However, if there is a difference in orientation and data transfer has slowed down, at a minimum a technician is needed to reorient the antenna. Having positional information helps narrow down the potential options without needing to physically go out to the antenna to diagnose it.
CEVA provides accurate absolute orientation with our 9-axis sensor fusion solutions. And as the country’s 5G networks expand, CEVA has technology designed specifically to assist with installation as well. Our planar magnetometer calibration allows a technician to calibrate heading of an antenna on its final installation location. We understand infrastructure can be cumbersome to work with, so a simple 90-degree turn delivers accurate absolute heading. An easier installation process leads to increased likelihood of it being done correctly, which leads to more consistent performance and tracking – a win for everyone.
CEVA develops motion sensor solutions for all types of use cases and applications, including emerging applications for 5G and IoT (Internet of Things). Our accurate motion tracking and long-term heading data enabled by sensor fusion software allows manufacturers and service providers to gain valuable data in real-world conditions for any IoT device installed in the field.
Contact us today to see how IMUs can be integrated with your application for better motion tracking and cost-saving insights.
Published on Embedded Computing Design.