In many aspects of engineering there is a virtuous circle. If you make a car lighter it needs smaller brakes, a smaller engine and you improve performance and fuel economy. That in turn means it can be made lighter. The same is true of mobile phone networks. If you can improve the efficiency of the radio, both in the handsets and the base stations, you can have faster data transfer, fewer cell sites and better battery life.
Technology developed by Professor Rob Maunder at the University of Southampton in 2016, has been spun out into AccelerComm which has established itself as a global leader in 5G New Radio physical layer IP, which increases spectral efficiency and reduces latency of the 5G Radio Access Network. The physical layer is where hardware meets software. Improving the efficiency of this has a knock-on effect to the whole of the radio network.
High spectral efficiency is crucial in protecting cellular and other radio networks from insufficient capacity, low data rates, sparse coverage, and poor quality-of-service. Despite the roll-out of early 5G networks these factors remain an issue that impact customer experience and risks stifling new service revenue opportunities for operators. Improvements to spectral efficiency can also be used to significantly reduce infrastructure equipment and operational power consumption, with less equipment needed to provide the same network performance.
The company’s IP is playing a significant role in helping to optimise the performance of Open RAN. While open systems offer significant benefits is to create a rich and broad ecosystem of vendors, with specialists in various components collaborating to drive technical breakthroughs and developments the extra standards and interfaces can impact performance.
Nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in the radio network itself. The spectral efficiency of a radio network (bits/sec/Hz) is a key indicator that defines how efficiently an operator is using the spectrum that in which they have invested. By relying on generic products, often derived from Wi-Fi or broadcast, Open RAN operators face significant impacts in the performance of their network in terms of spectral efficiency and performance, with more equipment required to serve the same number of customers.
AccelerComm’s complete Open RAN 5G channel coder/decoder design can bring dramatic benefits: Recent research from the industry analyst firm Mobile Experts quantified the impact on a typical Open RAN US mobile operator as saving approximately 20% of base station equipment costs and operating power consumption. The AccelerComm IP packages can be quickly integrated and flexibly delivered for use in custom silicon (ASIC), programmable hardware (FPGA), or as software solutions.
The company is already working with Intel, Xilinx, Silicomm, and many others. Driven by a leadership team comprising executives and senior talent from ARM, Qualcomm and Ericsson, AccelerComm was recently named in the EE Times Silicon 100: Emerging Start-ups to Watch and continues to push the state-of-the-art in 5G physical layer technology.