WORTECS explores Terabit/s capability of above 90GHz spectrum, combining radio and optical wireless technologies

Summary

In the framework of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) H2020* European call for projects, the proposed research project WORTECS (Wireless Optical/Radio TErabit CommunicationS) was accepted for funding and is closed by 31th of October 2020. The final review took place by virtual event on December 8th, 2020.

The challenge of WORTECS was to propose “scientific and technology advances for novel use of the spectrum potential, de-risking technological building blocks at frequencies above 90 Ghz up to Thz communications backed by innovative usage scenarios”, for instance, Virtual Reality (VR). It will also “address visible light communications and develop radically new approaches for spectrum efficiency” (https://wortecs.eurestools.eu/ ).

WORTECS aims to offer:

  • Optical Wireless Communication (OWC) device with Gigabit per second (Gbps) data rate target.
  • Radio 240 GHz Proof of Concept with several Gigabit per second (Gbps) throughput
  • New wireless communication prototype with Fiber Wireless Fiber (FiWi) Proof of Concep.
  • Heterogeneous wireless Network architecture studies with new architectures and protocols for routing, latency and caching.
  • WORTECS SaaS (Software as a Service) with a channel simulation tool for beyond 60 GHz RF and optical spectrum.
  • New Virtual Reality content HDMI/Ethernet Gbps converter with low latency video compression/decompression features.
  • New prototype by design of a hybrid RF and OWC system capable to process multiple baseband signals at the same time.

Last but not least, the customer view was taken into account through interviews, questionnaires or field tests. The purpose is to provide a Virtual Reality user-friendly interface with a solution including terabit/s data rate, reduced latency and multi-user environment associated with an accurate tracking. With a 3 million euro budget, WORTECS consortium brings together several European industrial and institutes players in this market (Orange, Oledcomm and B-Com from France, IHP Microelectronics from Germany, pureLiFi from United Kingdom) as well as academics recognized in this area (University of Oxford from United Kingdom and University of Las Palmas from Spain).

The 7 prototypes developed within WORTECS project should have been integrated (all in one) in order to propose a global multi-techno wireless communication solution that can reach Tbps (Terabits per second) with an additional device (HetNet) for quickly managing these links in case of failure of one of them. The Covid19 situation has stopped this objective but building blocks are operational (https://www.wortecs.com/program ) and some of them have or will have in the coming weeks or months a commercial implementation or a deepening under a new project.

Contacts: Olivier Bouchet – Orange Labs –  WORTECS Project manager- + 33 2 99 12 46 08 – olivier.bouchet@orange.com

 

Achievement

The work carried out during WORTECS project was mainly oriented towards different Proof of Concepts development (PoCs) for indoor communication (see deliverables D3.4, D4.5 and D4.6 on https://wortecs.eurestools.eu/deliverables-dissemination/ ):

  • First, IHP developed a wireless transmitter and receiver chips working in the 240 GHz band (PoC 1). Additionally, IHP developed a transmitter and receiver chip with a 4 × 1 antenna array.
  • This project presented also a channel simulation tool, which models wireless propagation channel for beyond 60 GHz RF and optical spectrum (PoC 2). The details of the GUI design and the mathematical model are on this Web site: https://wortecs.idetic.eu
  • The Optical Wireless Communications (OWC) PoC (PoC 3) relies on the use of ITU-T G.hn standard chip for the design of the digital board. Two different digital boards (each by partner pureLiFi and Oedcomm) were developed and the performance of each board was evaluated to ensure Gbps capability.
  • Additionally, IHP integrated the implementation of the Heterogeneous Networks (HetNet), i.e. the Layer 2.5 running on FPGA boards (PoC 4). Both FPGA boards, one for the transmitter-side and another for the receiver were installed and tested, to provide several 10G Ethernet ports with low latency.
  • To illustrate the wide bandwidth of the wireless link, a virtual reality use case is selected. For that, two systems were developed to realize the interface between the video signals and the transceiver. Prototypes with low latency video compression/decompression features (PoC 5).
  • The design, implementation and performance evaluation of Fiber Wireless Fiber (FiWi) PoC (PoC 6) for OWC with realistic communication and localisation coverage was also defined. This PoC focused on a small form factor design of beam-steering and tracking terminals to steer the light out of a fiber optic in free space at one end and guide it back into a fiber optic at the other end.
  • Finally, the design of a hybrid RF and optical wireless communication system (PoC 7) was also defined. The design of a digital board, which is capable to process multiple baseband signals at the same time was discussed in detail and the designs of analog board, which acts as an interface between the digital board and the air-interface systems, was also achieved.

Additionally, during the period WORTECS partners have (see https://wortecs.eurestools.eu/deliverables-dissemination/):

  • Define dissemination plan: During the last period, WORTECS partners contributed 3 patents, 12 conference papers (including one best paper award), 3 Journal papers and two talks. These are listed in D5.7.Dissemination plan V2 and other dissemination plan can be seen in D5.1.Dissemination period I and D5.5.Dissemination period II.
  • Propose Open Event: The major activity of last period was the WORTECS Open Event. This was planned to take place at the Orange Gardens in Chatillon in Paris, but took place on the 15th October 2020 as a virtual event due to travel and gathering restrictions. A complete report can be found in D5.4, and the agenda can be seen on WORTECS Open Event web site (https://www.wortecs.com/ ). Each partner presented an overview of their PoC demonstration and a video showing its operation. In addition presentations on the state of research in OWC, the state of standardisation, and visions of a future network were given. The peak audience during the event was 131 viewers with an average view time of 57 minutes. In addition, Vimeo statistics up to 2nd of December 2020 showed 362 views of the video and 315 downloads. More detail can be found in D5.4. Open Event 2 report.
  • Provided inputs to IEEE 802.11 and ITU standardization body: Two standardisation activities relevant to VLC (Visible Light Communication) are still underway in the IEEE; 802.11 TGbb and 802.15.7. There is also a THz interest group in 802.15 (IG THz). Partner pureLiFi made 9 contributions to the 802.11 effort in the 3rd period. The 802.11 effort aims to allow reuse of the existing RF components with minor modification. The ITU (ITU-T G.vlc) focused on amendments to support IEEE802.1X protocols and enhanced security frameworks, with a focus on the latter. The Light Communications Alliance (LCA) was also launched in December 2019, with partners Orange, pureLiFi and Oledcomm as members. In RF the aim is to present results from the 240GHz PHY to the IEEE 802.15 TAG, but delays in the development of the ICs has delayed this. More detail on standardisation can be found in D5.8 Standardisation Plan V2 and precedent standardisation plan can be seen in D5.2.Standardisation period I and D5.6.Standardisation period II.
  • Finally, WORTECS team closely interacted with other European competing projects to ensure that WORTECS solutions actually integrate into the H2020 ecosystem (listed in dissemination deliverables). This interaction will continue, with Orange Labs presentation already planned during the 3TTCW conference, on March 12th, 2021.

 

Impacts and exploitation

As reminder, the desired impacts listed in the proposal are:

  • Impact 1: Validation of disruptive communication concepts, technologies and architectures.
  • Impact 2: Proof of applicability of challenging spectrum regions towards innovative and cost efficient applications.
  • Impact 3: Advances in signal processing and information theory and scientific publication in world class journals.
  • Impact 4: Industry competitiveness with exploitation of academic research through transfer and innovation towards industry, in particular SMEs or start-ups.

Impact from each partner is as follows:

Orange Labs:

In a Beyond 5G/6G perspective, WORTECS partners have put, on the same priority level, societal requirements and more traditional performance requirements, such as capacity, data rates, latency, and reliability. Indeed, even if a new technology has to bring improved performance compared to its predecessor, it is today of primary importance to take into account, from day one in the design of the technology, the expectations of the society, in a context where opposition to the deployment of 5G arises in different areas of the world. A couple of concerns expressed by the society are summarized below:

  • The energy consumption of mobile networks, which has to remain stable even with an ever increasing traffic
  • The environmental impact (carbon footprint) of ICT has to be limited, end-to-end, meaning that energy consumption and CO2 impact have to be quantified not only at the network level once deployed and in operation but also including the manufacturing of network equipment and devices, as well as the power consumption induced by the usages of customers themselves (OTT services, datacenters…)
  • As the backbone of digital society, networks are already today essential for social life, economy and public services. As connectivity expands to more critical fields, expectations on resilience, security and privacy grow stronger (resilience = high robustness + fast recovery over failure)
  • Digital inclusion is a growing societal concern and a WORTECS partner’s commitment.
  • Networks need to become more EMF-aware: 5G deployments are impacted in some areas with tight EMF limits, what requires to lower the transmit power, which reduces coverage; to develop EMF-aware transmission is needed to ensure future technology deployability.
  • A future technology then needs to provide built-in capabilities to maximize the performance of each design dimension in a cost-efficient way (TCO) and to allow network operators to set the trade-offs according to their needs.

Coming back to WORTECS project and EC call request, it give us the opportunity to “push” optical wireless and radio communications solutions to assess their limits (“Reach Terabit per second in wireless communications”), and also to “released” from laboratory another wireless optical communication solution (FiWi) which seem to be promising, e.g. in terms of data rate, energy consumption efficiency and reduction of EMF The management of several technological solutions was also an important objective in order to have handover  due to the failure of one of link with an extremely low latency at data rates up to 10 Gbps. Another approach also relates to throughput aggregation with the help of several wireless links in parallel. Finally, online optical wireless modeling software offers the opportunity to ease customer appropriation of these new wireless optical solutions. We now hope that a significant part of these results or Proof of Concept will have resonance in commercial field.

 

Oledcomm:

The WORTECS project has contributed to the development of Oledcomm’s LiFi activities. When the project was launched, Oledcomm’s main product, MyLiFi, allowed a bidirectional connection at 10 Mbps. In 2019, Oledcomm launched its LiFiMAX product allowing a 100 Mbps connection shared by up to 16 users with a coverage of 12 m at 2 m. This product has since been deployed in more than 300 projects and 15 countries around the world, contributing to the transfer of a technology from academic research to the industrial world.

At the same time, Oledcomm has, through the WORTECS project, been involved in the standardization process led by the ITU for communication by light (G.vlc set of recommendations) in order to promote the emergence of new functionalities (handover, interference management…) essential for the efficient deployment of LiFi systems in real applications (office environment, classrooms, etc.) and thus enable the expansion of the LiFi market. In comparison, when the WORTECS project was launched, only the IEEE 802.15.7-2011 standard existed and it was little followed by the industry. From a more technical point of view, the final G.vlc demonstrator of the WORTECS project showed that the symbolic data rate of 1 Gbps can be achieved using simple commercially available optoelectronic components. These results, which should soon be reflected in Oledcomm’s products, also pave the way for the miniaturization of the OFE, which will drastically reduce its price, size and consumption and thus facilitate the integration of LiFi technology in new terminals (smartphones, tablets…) allowing the opening of new markets.

Finally, in addition to these advances in electronics, the WORTECS project has also enabled Oledcomm to strengthen its optical activity, with the improvement of vector optical design techniques, which has also been enhanced by the publication of research papers in international journals.

 

B-Com:

The impact on B-Com includes

  • New skills acquisition, with Optical wireless communication daughter board studies, and the will to go further than initial plan in hybrid communication with the realization of a hybrid PoC OWC/RF.
  • Desire to share with partners interested in the architecture choice we made to improve OWC performance beyond the state of the art.
  • Possible commercialization of the video format conversion and compression PoC. Discussion is ongoing with the commercialization department.
  • Video converter developments reused in a new project to showcase the performance of new video compression algorithm.
  • New skills in the implementation of very high speed IP with the LDPC high speed development. This new knowledge was used to improve initial LDPC IP performances.

 

pureLiFi:

Within WORTECS, to impact the industry competitiveness, pureLiFi:

  • Has developed the first Gbps capable products, as well as the first standard compliance systems
  • Gained experience with partners working on video convertors, which could be reused to understand the requirement for future customers and applications
  • Has conducted talks and demonstrations in numbers of events (including conference, congress, project event, etc.) to audience from both academic and industry.
  • Has submitted relevant patent applications.
  • In addition, pureLiFi has significantly impact on standards by chairing the 802.11bb and actively contributing to the task group.

 

University of Oxford:

The impact for the University has been:

  • Increased recognition of this work through publication. The work carried out on the Fiber-Wireless-Fiber (FWF), beam-steering and tracking based optical wireless communication system, has been published in IEEE Journal of Lightwave Technology, the IEEE Photonics Conference and OSA Optical Fiber Communication Conference within 2020. These publications are already attracting large number of views on IEEE Xplore.
  • Increased knowledge of tracking techniques and development of potentially low-cost 3D printing approaches to manufacturing gimbals.
  • Contribution to future research directions combining quantum and high data rate communications for ultra-secure terminals.

 

University of Las Palmas:

The University of Las Palmas specific algorithm developed in the program provides enhanced flexibility and its three-stage approach could be of high interest in future OWC deployments. In addition, the WORTECS SaaS (Software as a Service) is the first web platform focused on providing indoor wireless impulse response calculations. Taking into account the continuously-increasing VLC and OWC ecosystem, WORTECS SaaS could be massively used after including the outcomes of the currently-running beta testing.

 

IHP:

  • Contribution to impact 1 and 4: During the last year of the project, IHP built and integrated the demonstrator that allowed us to verify implementation for ultra-high-speed heterogeneous networks, also for dealing with disruptive communication links. Although the FPGA platform limited the achieved throughput, IHP estimated that the potential data rate for modern hardware platforms and Layer2.5 implementation probably could support Terabit networks. These demonstrator servers as a starting point for potential customers interested in heterogeneous networking. IHP Labs already discussed it with the company “IHP solutions”, a subsidiary of IHP, and started market analysis.
  • Contribution to impact 2: IHP work verified that radio communication in 240 GHz frequency band is possible not only in theory, but also showed real data communication at 240 GHz with a real demonstrator. Huge frequency bands data rates available at this frequency band, proved with IHP demonstrator, would enables new applications that require high-speed, short range wireless communication, for instance, like the Virtual Reality scenarios considered in this project. PoC high speed wireless transmission demonstrator clearly showed this possibility.
  • Contribution to impact 3: IHP excellent results with 240 GHz radio communication have been awarded with the Best Paper Award in section “Microwave theory and techniques” on the MTTW 2020 conference. Since IHP is the pioneers in the field of 240 GHz radio communication using the IHP’s SiGe BiCMOS technology, and work at IHP on both analog and digital design, work is highly visible worldwide and has a huge impact on the developments in this area. Apart from this, IHP presented also results on other scientific conferences and gave also a few invited talks.

 

Thanks to WORTECS team…

 

Contributors:

News

# 2020/05/12: WORTECS Open Event and next conference

  • 1st WORTECS Open Event, webinar, on 15th October, 2020. (program, slide and video available on : https://www.wortecs.com/)

# 2020/04/03: Wireless World Record

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