Breakthrough in Free Space Optics Powered 5G

Example of a transverse cross-section of a beam produced by the structured laser beam. The central axis, which is very dense, is surrounded by several halos of light. This technology, used to align the components of accelerators, is breaking through into the field of telecommunications. (Image: CERN / IPP)

On January 30, Ericsson and VodafoneZiggo opened the 5G Hub at High Tech Campus Eindhoven. There, two months later, Aircision announced its readiness to field test its groundbreaking laser-based 5G communications technology. This solution is based on a structured laser beam technology developed at CERN in Switzerland, which enables long-range, one hundred gigabits-per-second data transmission with high reliability.

“The lab tests we conducted with TNO, the Netherlands Organization for applied scientific research, of Aircision’s free space optics (FSO) solution under adverse atmospheric conditions were promising enough to proceed to the next phase of outdoor testing.” said Aircision CTO Dr. John Reid. “Our system is more resistant to atmospheric effects, such as fog, and brings incomparable improvement compared with existing FSO technologies. Our technology offers great potential for FSO in overcoming bottlenecks that have hindered its application in the past such as limits on distance, latency and reliability. Most importantly, with our technology, we offer a faster pathway to higher bandwidth capacity, whereas microwave has significant hurdles to overcome on that front.”

In 2018, the deep tech venture builder HighTechXL and CERN launched a partnership to build new ventures using breakthrough technologies developed at CERN. Supported by industry giants such as ASML and Philips, the Eindhoven Startup Alliance mobilized its unique know-how, networks and expertise to support the new ventures, such as Aircision, to scale up quickly.

“We are excited to facilitate this 5G test project with our partners at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven,” said Han Dols, head of business development at CERN. “By teaming up with Nikhef, HighTechXL and the Eindhoven Startup Alliance, we are proud to enable Aircision to demonstrate the value of this cutting-edge technology in telecommunications,” Dols said.

“We’re not only rolling out the first 5G network in urban areas like Eindhoven, but we’re also creating a key piece of technology crucial to bringing high-bandwidth communications to rural areas around the globe,” HighTechXL’s CEO Guus Frericks added. “In addition, FSO can be a permanent solution for remote areas of the world where fiber optics networks are not technically or economically viable to build out. Taking part in this 5G project is just a start.”

In the next phase, TNO Space will help with assessing the technology, demonstrating feasibility and raising the technical readiness level further. The plan is to jointly conduct tests, analyze, and validate Aircision’s free space optics under adverse atmospheric conditions using TNO’s 5G network infrastructure in Den Haag and Scheveningen. (Source: Aircision)

Links: AIRCISION, Eindhoven, The NetherlandsContributions to society, European Organization for Nuclear Research (Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire – CERN), Geneva, Switzerland

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