The RWTH Profile Area Information & Communication Technologies is conducting research on how to best estimate the immissions caused by new mobile radio technologies. The project is one of the topics covered in the next issue of the University’s research magazine RWTH THEMEN, published this winter semester.
Mobile Internet usage has been a part of many smartphone or tablet users’ daily lives for several years now. The ability to access multimedia content on the go in high quality and at high speed has become more and more a matter of course. Mobile network operators are responding to the steadily growing demand for higher data transmission rates by expanding their networks and introducing new mobile communications standards. Compliance with the immission protection limits for high-frequency electromagnetic fields is of decisive importance here. The RWTH Institute of High-Frequency Technology’s scientists are researching how to detect and estimate immissions caused by new mobile radio technologies. A particular focus is on the compatibility of electromagnetic fields’ immissions with environmental standards, especially human health. Investigations were carried out on so-called small cells, which provide additional data transmission capacity in areas with high user traffic. Immission guide values were also determined for indoor mobile radio coverage, as found in office buildings and airports. The current focus is on expanding the new 5G technology.
Mobile Phone Users in the Spotlight
5G places new demands on technologies to measure immissions in many respects. One of the new technical solutions is massive MIMO. MIMO stands for multiple-input multiple-output. With this technology, signals can be tightly bundled and transmitted through so-called beamforming. The difference to the conventional capacity of a radio cell can be made clear by the following analogy: A stage can be illuminated as a whole by a broad beam spotlight. However, it is also possible to direct a narrow, brighter cone of light at a person on stage and follow them. This is precisely what happens to the radio signal with Massive MIMO: It is bundled in form of a beam in the direction of a user’s end device and can be swiveled. In this way, users can be provided with high signal strengths up to the edge of the radio cell, while interference to other users is reduced simultaneously. This allows data throughput to be increased considerably. However, determining the maximum possible immission through all possible beam configurations and other 5G technology innovations poses significant challenges for immission measurement technology. Within the framework of a project funded by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, research is being carried out to develop a suitable method for charting the maximum immission under these new conditions.
Article in the University Research Magazine RWTH-THEMEN
The next issue of RWTH THEMEN will report on this project and other key research areas at Aachen’s University of Excellence.