BT trials a new quantum radio to boost next-generation 5G & IoT Networks
- BT trials new hyper-sensitive quantum radio receiver to boost next-gen 5G & IoT networks.
- Technology uses ‘excited atoms’ to deliver over 100x greater sensitivity than traditional receivers.
- The atomic receiver has the potential to reduce mobile network energy consumption, enable IoT cost efficiencies and help to close the rural connectivity divide.
BT today announced a pioneering trial of a new hyper-sensitive quantum antenna technology using excited atomic states that could boost the capability of next generation 5G and IoT networks.
Atomic Radio Frequency (RF) receiver technology represents a revolutionary new way of detecting radio waves that could find much weaker signals than conventional receivers. The receiver works by using a quantum effect called “electromagnetically induced transparency” to form a highly sensitive electric field detector. BT’s trial represents the first time a digitally-encoded message has been received on a 3.6GHz (5G) carrier frequency. Previously, simple audio has been received using much higher frequencies but this trial is the first industrial demonstration using digital modulation within one of EE’s main commercial 5G frequency ranges.
This new type of receiver may reduce mobile network energy consumption, enable Internet of Things (IoT) devices to become more cost efficient and longer lasting and support lower-cost smart cities and smart agriculture. Theoretically over 100x more sensitive than traditional receivers, the atomic RF Receiver can be positioned in a passive optical receiver in hard-to-reach locations, potentially bringing mobile networks closer to achieving one hundred percent coverage and helping to close the connectivity divide.
While the technology is still in the very early stages, it has the potential to provide greater sensitivity than conventional radio antennas, tuneable operation from very low frequencies, detection of analogue and digital modulation, and low energy consumption through reduced need for electronics. The new technology could in future form the basis of ultra-sensitive 5G receivers for use in very low power passive mobile networks.
Researchers at BT Labs in Martlesham are now working to miniaturise the equipment and find the optimum RF modulation and signal processing for potential use in future generations of radio networks.
Howard Watson, Chief Technology Officer of BT said: “BT’s investment in cutting edge R&D plays a central role in ensuring the UK remains a network technology leader. Our programme has huge potential to boost the performance of our next generation EE network and deliver an even better service to our customers. Although it’s early days for the technology, we’re proud to be playing an instrumental role in developing cutting edge science”.
BT has also secured a number of patents related to the implementation of the atomic RF receiver and is the first company to make use of the technology to send a message at 3.6GHz. Earlier this year, BT also had its first external publication on its atomic RF Receivers accepted for publication in the prestigious Journal of Lightwave Technology.
BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network and IT infrastructure services to customers across 180 countries.
BT Group consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; Enterprise and Global are our UK and international business-focused units respectively; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary, which wholesales fixed access infrastructure services to its customers - over 650 communication providers across the UK.
British Telecommunications plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
For more information, visit www.bt.com/about