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Remote area Access Network for 5th GEneration

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - 5GRANGE (Remote area Access Network for 5th GEneration)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2020-10-31

The Fifth Generation of Mobile Network (5G) provides high data rate, reduces latency up to a few milliseconds, enables network connectivity for many power-limited devices. One consequence of the technologies introduced in 5G is the reduction of the coverage of 5G cells since it is not expected that cells above 20 GHz bands can reach a radius higher than a few kilometers. The use of high frequency bands and small cells in 5G networks hinder the development of an important scenario: the enhanced Remote Area Communications (eRAC) that is needed to provide reliable and high-quality broadband mobile networks in remote and rural areas. In order to be economically attractive, a remote area mobile network must have a coverage cell one order of magnitude higher than what is provided by current 4G. In addition, auctions for spectrum always require high investments and alternative regulations on spectrum exploitation in regions with low population density is needed to enable eRAC.

The goal of the Remote Area Access Network for the 5th Generation (5G-RANGE) project, a Brazil-Europe bilateral cooperation project, is to make the provision of high-speed communications in low populated areas a feasible business. 5G-RANGE technology supports cell with radius above 50 km with at least 100 Mbps at the edge, employing both licensed and unlicensed frequencies, while cognitive radio techniques will be used to protect incumbents. The combination of an innovative PHY and a cognitive MAC will result in a 5G technology able to reach the unconnected people worldwide. This network will trigger new agribusiness services, bringing new revenues for different sectors of our society.
The 5G-RANGE project developed the following results.

A PHY layer that supports the cognitive cycle for dynamic spectrum allocation. The baseline for the PHY design was the 5G new radio. However, since the 5G-RANGE operates in TV white space and covers long distances, the time-frequency frame has been redesigned to accommodate narrower subcarriers and longer symbols. Generalized Frequency Division Multiplexing has been selected as the waveform for the air interface because it presents high flexibility and a very low out-of-band emissions, a critical feature for TVWS exploitation. For the channel coding, Polar Code has been selected due to its robustness and affordable complexity. The robustness of the system is assured by a MIMO scheme that provides diversity gain to the aerial link.

A cognitive media access control (CMAC) that is responsible for the opportunistic spectrum allocation. Different spectrum sensing techniques are integrated with collaborative sensing. The base station is responsible for fusing the spectrum sensing report from all users into a global decision. The 5G-RANGE solution proposes the introduction of the cognition, with the use of Cognitive Cycle integrated into the Medium Access Control layer to implement Cooperative Spectrum Sensing and Dynamic Spectrum Access. The general architecture of the Cognitive MAC layer integrates multiple blocks related with cognition: 5G-COSORA; 5G-DARA; 5G-SCHED; and 5G-LA.

A Network Layer for the 5G-RANGE network that provides the end-user terminals of 5G-RANGE with secure end-to-end IP network connectivity, considering diverse aspects related with the integration of the 5G-RANGE access network with the networks of telecommunication operators, and the delivery of Internet and operator-specific services (e.g. web browsing, email, video streaming, IP telephony, etc.) to 5G-RANGE users.

The proposed 5G-RANGE technologies were implemented and integrated in the 5G RANGE network PoC. The performance evaluation of the proposed system, field tests and demonstration of specific use cases under real-world conditions were also performed. The PoC enabled the development of the 5G-RANGE demonstrations, including Voice and Data Connectivity, Wireless Backhauling, Smart Farm and e-Health. The PoC was used for demonstrations that attracted the attention of vendors, farmers associations and ISP in Brazil.

5G-RANGE also defined new alternative scalable business models for the provision of high-speed communications in rural/low density areas, leveraging local communities and entrepreneurs that would fast and profitably deploy networks in ultra-low-density areas whilst having high capillarity for network operations and commercialization. This started by identifying all the show-stoppers on a systematic way and designing the business mechanisms that create the right incentives to foster a massive adoption by local entrepreneurs.

The impact of the project was strengthen through specific exploitation-oriented activities, communication and dissemination of project information and project results and contributions to standards.

The 5G-RANGE consortium is presenting the principles, benefits, challenges and solutions for eRAC to a wide set of decision makers in industry, government and operators. We identified a high demand for connectivity from agribusiness and mining industries in Brazil and a clear interest in the 5G-RANGE technology has emerged. Inatel is currently developing new partnerships to exploit the outcome of the project for specific applications.

Today, the technology developed in the 5G-RANGE project is being negotiated with a vendor in Brazil and it is being considered as a solution for providing Internet connection in the area affected by the Brumadinho’s Dam disaster in Minas Gerais state, Brazil. In addition, there is a ongoing partnership with an agribusiness federation in order to develop BSs and CPEs that can be deployed by farmers and associations of farmers to allow Smartfarms applications.
The following list summarizes the most relevant achievements of the project with their technological readiness levels:
·5G-MIMORA (TRL6): MIMO system covering diversity and multiplexing modes
·5G-ACRA (TRL6): Channel coding scheme, including encoder, decoder and rate adaptation
·5G-FlexNOW (TRL6): Waveform generator and detector for OFDM, GFDM and F-OFDM
·5G-IR2A (TRL6): Algorithms for synchronization, channel estimation and gain control
·5G-FRAMER (TRL6): Flexible frame multiplexer and demultiplexer for different operation modes
·5G-COSORA (TRL5): Cooperative spectrum sensing scheme, including the reporting channel
·5G-DARA (TRL5): Dynamic spectrum access scheme for fragmented spectrum allocation
·5G-D2DRC (TRL3): Device to device communication for the 5G-RANGE uplink
·5G-RANGE BS (TRL3): Base station for the PoC
·5G-RANGE UE (TRL3): User equipment for the PoC
·5G-NL-extensions (TRL4): Cost-effective approach to complement the access network infrastructure based on NFV enabled drones
A 5G network for remote areas can provide several social and economic benefits. The broadband Internet access in remote areas can introduce a large parcel of the population in the Digital Age connecting a large set of these people, providing remote education, e-health, e-gov, besides entertainment, communication and digital integration. This long-range mobile network can also be used to support IoT applied to agribusiness, improving the productivity in farms and supporting a large set of smart-farms applications, from soil measurements and watering to the use of drones for pulverization. Logistics can also be improved with better efficiency in transportation of agricultural production, road service, and environment, cattle and disaster monitoring.
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