Bigger name, same technical content
Welcome to EE World’s 5G, Wireless, and Wired Communications Handbook. What’s this? A longer name compared to 2021 and 2022? In truth, we at EE World have for years covered many forms of electrical communications. It’s time the handbook name better describes what we do.
5G is much more than cellular radio. There’s an entire network behind it. The electrical and optical links that form these networks continue to gain speed and capacity. Research is now underway to bring 224 Gb/sec data lanes over copper. At the same time, silicon photonics and co-packaged optics have moved into manufacturing. We’ll investigate these trends later in 2023 and beyond.
People who build networks, operate them, and develop applications demand more throughput, which falls on engineers to deliver. After all, network architects, software developers, IT people, telecom operators, and everyone else assume that the bits arrive at their destinations on time and intact. We don’t. We know bits don’t magically traverse networks. They need transmitters, receivers, signal processing, timers, and layers of protocols. As new network configurations such as Open RAN appear, they come with new wired connections. Disaggregating radio-access networks into open systems means more opportunities for interoperability problems. One such connection is the E2 interface, explained in “How does 5G’s O-RAN E2 interface work?”
Bits must arrive on time and in sync. For the third year, we’re delivering two articles on network timing in this handbook. We’ve also published other timing articles in between handbooks. You can find them all, plus timing products, here.
Wireless and wired networks deliver connectivity to the world, but what’s connectivity without connectors and cables? “Connectors and cables modernize data centers” delves into space constraints, signal integrity, cabling, and thermal-management issues in data centers. It’s up to EEs to solve those problems.
In this issue, you’ll also learn that just having a functioning network isn’t enough. 5G, like all networks, needs protection from electrical hazards. “How to safeguard cellular base stations from five electrical hazards” shows you how to use circuit-protection devices such as fuses and TVS diodes to keep circuits safe.
As if protection from electrical hazards wasn’t enough, networks can suffer from RF interference as well. One form of which is passive intermodulation (PIM) caused by nonlinearities in connectors, cables, and so on. Locating PIM problems in the field requires test equipment and expertise.
Even as 5G continues to deploy, researchers are looking into how to make marketers’ dreams come true. Having attended 6G conferences for a few years now, I can report that people already want more — and less — from wireless networks. They want a better user experience for consumers, lower latency for machines, more computing power for digital transformation, and the “metaverse,” whatever that is. Of course, we all want more while using less energy. Two articles in this handbook look at 6G. One covers channel sounding at frequencies above 100 GHz. Another looks at how 6G networks will need to operate more sustainably than does 5G.
As engineers, it falls on us to provide the infrastructure that makes it all happen.
Senior Technical Editor
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