Technological breakthrough may be key to overcoming current 5G network limitations

Researchers from Bangor University’s Digital Signal Processing Centre (DSP) have made a breakthrough in the development of a novel Point-to-Multipoint (P2MP) Optical Transceiver.

Optical Transceivers are widely used in  data communication systems to transmit and receive signals over a network. The novel P2MP flexible transceiver overcomes the limitations of previous technologies in terms of just operating at pre-defined speeds over point-to-point transmission systems only.

As a direct result of the disadvantages associated with traditional optical transceivers, a current network node accommodating P2MP 5G access networks must use multiple traditional point-to-point (P2P) optical transceivers in parallel, each supporting a dedicated transmission link. Such network implementation and operation approaches are spectrally inefficient, energy-hungry, expensive and non-scalable in terms of meeting the stringent requirements of future access networks, including 5G-Advance and beyond.

To address these challenges, Bangor University researchers leading the way in DSP technology have turned their attention to point-to-multipoint (P2MP) transceivers, which have shown promise in offering scalable, flexible, and cost-effective solutions capable of supporting multiple low-speed optical transceivers to communicate with a single high-speed optical transceiver for cost-sensitive application scenarios. The transceivers can automatically and dynamically “grow” or “shrink”, depending on the network traffic status. These findings were recently presented in the Journal of Lightwave Technology, which is published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Dr Wei Jin, one of the co-authors of the paper from Bangor University’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Enginerering said,

“The breakthrough in P2MP transceiver technology presented in our research paper holds tremendous potential for revolutionizing existing optical access networks by transforming their virtual network topologies from P2P to P2MP in a scalable, flexible, low latency, and cost-effective manner.

“Compared to traditional transceivers,  the reduction in transmitter digital signal processing complexity, improved spectral efficiency, and enhanced network security also make this solution highly promising for the future of optical access networks. As we continue to refine and optimize this technology, we can look forward to a new era of efficient and adaptable optical access networks that meet the growing demands of our interconnected world.”

“The rapid growth of data traffic driven by the advent of 5G-Advance and beyond networks has created a pressing need for innovative solutions that can transform optical access networks. These non-incremental solutions must meet the increasing demands for connectivity density, bandwidth, cost-effectiveness, latency (the delay in receiving signals), reliability and security, while reducing capital and operational expenses.
 “I am proud that the team at Bangor University’s Digital Signal Processing Centre, together with our colleagues in Shanghai, are making an important contribution to advancements in digital communications technology.”
Professor Jianming Tang, Operation Director at the DSP Centre at Bangor University and expert in optical communications research

“The new transceivers will be field-trialed in FibreSpeed’s practical fibre networks along the A55 expressway.  Together with the DSP Centre-developed other cutting-edge technologies including data-carrying optical signal-based sensing, physical-layer network security, and ultrafast optical switches (directly manipulating mobile traffic in the optical domain without performing O-E-O conversion), the new transceivers will be used to form a unique 5G/6G network, seamlessly converging fibre networks, radio networks and optical wireless networks, for example in our planned 5G Medical Innovation Lab.  The network platform can simultaneously support multiple use cases that address strategic industrial challenges today and tomorrow.”

This work was part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, the North Wales Growth Deal through Ambition North Wales, Welsh Government and UK Government, the China Scholarship Council, the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai Municipality Project Grant, the National Key Research and Development Programme of China and the Natural Science Foundation of China.

More about the DSP Centre for Excellence here