Operators and wireless infrastructure vendors can see the LTE base station in action at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, 22-25 February, 2016.
And for my next trick...
...I will transform a humble PC into an LTE base station.
(Cue roll of drums)
First, I take a regular PC with no special motherboard or mezzanine card, add a USB dongle, sprinkle with an LTE stack, and -- Ta-Da -- you have an LTE base station!
Actually, there's really no trick to this, although it is fair to say that programmable chips contribute to the magic. The field programmable RF (FPRF) chip from Lime Microsystems covers all the global LTE cellular bands. In addition to supporting a fully-programmable operating frequency, the bandwidth and gain are also tunable on the fly, thereby providing a very flexible RF solution. These FPRFs support Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) and all the variations of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), giving them the ability to support high-data-rate traffic.
The dongle mentioned above includes an Altera Cyclone IV device that performs the baseband processing to encode and decode the data patterns that are transmitted over the air interface. Finally, the "heavy lifting" of processing the LTE stack and interfacing to the backhaul is handled by the PC, which provides a solution that is both cost-effective and easy to use.
USB dongle used for LTE base station (Source: Lime Microsystems)
The resulting LTE base station is ideal as a small cell for enterprise applications or to offload traffic in high usage areas.
The low cost is enhanced by an operator's ability to customize the open source code to work seamlessly in a software defined network (SDN). This freedom and flexibility avoids issues such as "vendor lock-in" for the operator, where proprietary software is sourced by the equipment supplier.
Looking to the future, Lime has created a fully programmable up/down RF frequency shifter as a companion chip for the FPRF. This combination provides a simple solution for channel aggregation, which is a technique that uses two cellular channels to increase the throughput experienced by the user. The engineering work to design the dongle started well before Altera became an Intel company. That said, it would hardly be surprising to see a further integration of the design onto an optimized PC, although this remains pure speculation by the author.
Operators and wireless infrastructure vendors interested in seeing the LTE base station in action can book a slot with Lime Microsystems at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain (Hall 7 Stand 7O36MR from 22-25 February, 2016) by emailing Frank Grimshaw or calling +44 1225-470000.
Click here for more information on the USB board.