Research on cooperative mobile communications concepts

Participating Experts of EASY-C Workshop discuss standards of next-generation cellular communication systems

(PresseBox) ( Dresden, )
On Friday, December 5, 2008 experts participating in the Easy-C Public Workshop in Dresden will share their latest research results and innovative concepts they have developed that will shape mobile communications in the years to come. At the meeting, the research team around Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Fettweis of the Vodafone Chair Mobile Communications Systems at the Technische Universität Dresden will introduce and demonstrate for the first time key technologies that will set the standard for the future of cellular communication: EASY-C - standing for "Enablers for Ambient Services and sYstems - Part C: Wide Area Coverage" - shall help manage the industrialized nation's increased data flow. The potential of these technologies should - for a start - provide cities with a consistent network of higher data rates.

During the past years, the mobile phone has changed from simply being a telephone to an allaround multimedia device. With the broader technological possibilities, standards for network performance and mobile devices will increase. In order to meet the demands of consumers, device manufacturers and network service providers are currently facing a constant challenge of developing networks which operate at increasingly faster speeds. Since 2007, researchers at TU Dresden have worked on developing the next generation of mobile communications systems while going beyond the current mobile communication standards like GSM and UMTS. "The goal of our research - among other things - is to increase data rates, reliability and spectral efficiency of cellular systems," explains Patrick Marsch, technical project manager of EASY-C.

Recently the mobile communications industry developed a new standard, LTE ("Long Term Evolution", Version 8). The new technology is expected to be released beginning of 2011. This year an LTE-Advanced Initiative has been created to study the evolution of LTE. The initiative is collecting research results, to develop and test innovative concepts that will satisfy the needs of the next-generation of cell phone communication.

Parallel to the LTE-Initiative, the German project EASY-C spearheads current global research: "We aim to significantly increase the spectral efficiency of cellular communication systems, hence to enable larger data rates at lower cost, and also at lower power consumption," explains Fettweis. "Of major importance to us, is also the aspect of fairness. Future cellular systems must also be able to deliver the same high quality of service to any user anywhere and anytime."

Cooperative communication is one of the key technologies engineers rely on to achieve these goals. "Advanced mobile communication resembles a cocktail party. With many conversations going on at the same time, a person, while concentrating on the voice of the immediate conversational partner, still hears all other conversations. This chatter is some sort of background noise, which reduces the understandability of the conversation. Interference limitation within the advanced mobile communication systems can be understood in the same way," explains Fettweis. "Were those guests to know these other conversations, they could blank out the background noise, to completely concentrate on the conversation with the partner at hand." Consequently, cooperative communication has the ability to enormously increase the intercommunication quality. "Technically speaking, multiple base stations can cooperatively process the signals originating from multiple mobile phones," says Fettweis. "This allows the phones to communicate on the same resource in time and frequency. Mutual interference is actively exploited instead of being treated as noise. The results: Higher data rates - especially for the users positioned at the border between multiple cells that usually experience weak performance in conventional systems - and a very efficient reuse of spectrum. Of course the confidentiality of the communication in such cooperative system is granted, since the radio transmission is enciphered." Alternatively, EASY-C project partners investigate relaying techniques, where additional low-cost and low-energy relays are deployed in order to improve the coverage.

The massive potential gains from cooperative communications are well known in the research community. However, EASY-C is the first project where the mentioned techniques are implemented and tested in two large-scale mobile communication testbeds in Dresden and Berlin under representative signal propagation scenarios. "The results allow us to precisely assess the net gains of various cooperation schemes under practical considerations," says Fettweis. "Especially when evaluating them in relation to the multitude of additional requirements that need to be met in order to make these schemes work, such as higher complexity of base stations, increased demands regarding time and frequency synchronization, as well as the additional complexity and signaling overhead that is added to the system."

EASY-C also addresses and evaluates various other topics discussed in the LTE-Advanced initiative, such as advanced multi-antenna systems (MIMO), cooperative radio resource management and self-optimizing networks. EASY-C thus provides the worldwide first practical results for candidate technologies for LTE-advanced, and is making a major impact with the standardization of next generation cellular systems.

On Friday, December 5, 2008 the current results of the EASY-C project will be presented to the public. Participants will attend lectures discussing the latest scientific findings, and have the opportunity to watch live demonstrations of newly developed technologies. In addition, there will be three new mobile terminal prototypes presented, which will transmit on the same wireless resources and be cooperatively received and processed by two base stations located in the inner city of Dresden. This worldwide unique demonstration will highlight the advantages of operating on the cooperative communication scheme versus conventional systems. Other live demonstrations of the most recent mobile communications innovations will include scalable video codecs, which allow for resource efficient and robust video transmission, as well as innovative antenna solutions.

Through the ongoing research activities of EASY-C and the world-wide unique testbeds, Germany is able to extend its leading role in the field of mobile communications technology.

EASY-C is a research project financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), and is jointly led by T-Mobile and Vodafone and coordinated by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Fettweis at the Vodafone Chair Mobile Communications Systems, Technische Universität Dresden, in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich-Hertz- Institute (HHI) in Berlin. The project consortium includes 12 further industrial partners, semiconductor manufacturers, equipment suppliers, hardware & software tools providers and regulators. Among other things these include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Kathrein, Comneon, Signalion, Actix and the German Federal Network Agency ("Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA)"). A real-time demonstration of the cooperative communications schemes researched will be performed at the International Conference on Communications (ICC) in June 2009 in Dresden.

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