CTTC and InterDigital expand joint research to tackle 5G/Wi-Fi spectrum challenges

Barcelona-Based Research Institute and InterDigital to Develop Solutions for Spectrum Sharing in Unlicensed Millimetre Wave Bands

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 1, 2019 – The Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC) and InterDigital, Inc. (NASDAQ: IDCC), a mobile technology research and development company, have expanded their joint research efforts to advance the next generation of wireless technology. CTTC and InterDigital are developing solutions for 5G cellular technologies (including NR, MulteFire) and Wi-Fi/WiGig to cooperate effectively in millimetre wave unlicensed spectrum (NR-U for mmWave) for contribution to global standards efforts.

The new research project between CTTC and InterDigital will focus on NR and NR-U, and coexistence studies with Wi-Fi/WiGig, including technology development, system proof-of-concepts, and simulation work, among other areas. An important result of the work is the design and development of a 3GPP-compliant NR network simulator, with NR-U capabilities, designed as a pluggable module to ns-3, the network simulator popular in research and academia. ns-3 is important given that it offers multi-RAT (Radio Access Technologies) and multi-band simulation capabilities, including NR, Wi-Fi/WiGig, LTE (LTE-A, LAA, LTE-U) and other technologies.

“While 5G wireless technology is just beginning to launch in 2019, our work with InterDigital aims to deliver an enhanced mobile broadband experience that will enable 5G wireless to reach its full potential upon mass rollout over the next three to five years, said Lorenza Giupponi, Senior Researcher and Director of Institutional Relations, CTTC. “We are working towards making standalone cellular in unlicensed mmWave a reality, which will pave the way for new verticals like Industry 4.0, among others.”

In terms of standards contributions, CTTC and InterDigital are developing Beyond 5G extensions to the 3GPP NR standard that build on the existing Release 16 3GPP Work Item by extending NR-U to mmWave unlicensed spectrum (NR-U for mmWave). NR, the global standard being driven by 3GPP for a new 5G air interface, is a continuing part of the mobile broadband evolution to deliver on the requirements of 5G. According to 3GPP’s standardization timeline, Release 16 will submit an initial full 5G system by early 2020. In December 2018, 3GPP successfully concluded a Study Item, and has recently committed to a Work Item on NR-U. Researchers at both CTTC and InterDigital have evaluated and publicized work that highlights the performance and capabilities of advancing NR-U into millimetre wave spectrum.

“This expanded project highlights InterDigital’s role as an important, trusted research partner, and underscores our specific focus on testbeds and capabilities that are a fit for academic research and multi-party consortia,” said Doug Castor, Senior Director, InterDigital Labs. “The interoperability of various wireless technologies in unlicensed spectrum is a key area of research, and one where the combined abilities of CTTC and InterDigital can make a huge impact.” The expanded research project builds on an already strong collaboration. InterDigital and CTTC have been working together on 5G development since 2017, and have an established history and highly-respected research relationship that stems from consortium collaborations, such as in European H2020 5G-Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects.