Broadband has become the most common form of internet access in the EU as it was used by 88 % of households in 2019, 33 percentage points higher than the share recorded in 2009. Multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technologies have been envisioned as a key element to the successful deployment of next-generation networks, but there are still many practical issues, such as spectrum scarcity, energy efficiency, and dynamic wireless environments. “Wireless communication is a vital enabler of modern life and has been, and continues to be, extensively integrated into our day-to-day activities,” says ATOM project coordinator Keivan Navaie. “Yet, the main resource for providing wireless services, radio spectrum, is extremely limited and this makes it very expensive.” The EU-funded ATOM project set out to fully exploit the potential of MIMO technologies to revolutionise wireless networks. The team worked to help deploy research outcomes between European countries and others and provide a framework of advanced MIMO solutions for realising green, secure and high-data-throughput wireless communications. This research was undertaken with the support of the Marie Curie programme. “We are addressing these very issues in the heart of the wireless communication research community,” Navaie remarks. “We develop techniques to improve the use of the available radio spectrum and provide sustainable less-expensive wireless services with a lower carbon footprint to enable versatile technologies that are made available to a wider community.”
Unlocking the potential of MIMO
ATOM partners developed technologies that enable simultaneous transmission of power and information in MIMO systems. They developed this function to address the technical challenge of providing the energy needed in realising an Internet of Things, or IoT, that must be built in small sizes and without direct access to the power grid. The researchers advanced techniques for non-orthogonal multiple access in wireless communications by creating analytical tools to enhance the radio spectrum efficiency. ATOM pioneered this groundbreaking technology by incorporating mobile edge processing, new technologies such as mmWave and drones, which covers a large set of applications in various environments and settings. ATOM also developed various other MIMO technologies that address issues such as making the best use of 5G for data transfer efficiency, and resource allocation techniques that improve cell service for users. The team developed a technology that analyses 3D space to reduce interference in busy networks, a system that improves the security of secret communications and one that improves the design of caching in dense networks.
Taking advantage of 5G technology
“Over the course of the project, wireless technology has changed immensely and 5G technology has been launched,” Navaie observes. “This development affected our research for the better by enabling us through this project to contribute towards its development.” ATOM introduced new technologies such as intelligent radio surfaces, mmWave communications and UAV-enabled cellular networks.
Recognition for high-impact innovation
The European Commission selected the ATOM project for the Innovation Radar scheme that supports high-potential innovations and innovators in EU-funded research and innovation framework programmes. The concepts introduced in this project are transformative and have resulted in a paradigm change in the wireless access technology that stands to improve the use of the radio spectrum without compromising the quality of wireless services.
ATOM, MIMO, wireless communication, 5G, Intelligent Radio Surface, wireless network, multiple-input multiple-output