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Up Against Laws of Physics, Bell Labs Pushes Network Performance


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Bell Labs President Marcus Weldon sees future capacity improvements for copper, fiber and cellular networks.

Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs recently share some of its vision for networks in 2020.

Credit: Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs shared some of its vision for networks in 2020 at a recent event.

Plans for 5G include a pint-sized base station that can generate its own power by using solar energy or energy harvesting, and these small cells will be connected to the rest of the network without wires using massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO). MIMO employs multiple antennas simultaneously to boost wireless speeds. The massive scale stems from the use of 64 antennas that together produce 16 beams to connect the base stations.

Bell Labs researchers also have developed a prototype air interface, called universal filtered orthogonal frequency division multiplexing, for sending and receiving data. The base stations will not have to talk as much with connected devices, and vice versa, and the technology should lead to better battery life and enable networks to handle more devices.

Bell Labs also is building on the advancements in G.fast, and can transmit at speeds up to 10 Gbps, although at only slightly more about 30 meters for now.

Researchers envision fibers with multiple cores that can handle 1 Tbps of data, and different traffic could be sent down the fiber cores.

From Computerworld
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