"All the proof of a pudding is in the eating." Research on wireless systems is only credible if supported by measurements and experimental work. The new open radio system laboratory Reconfigurable Radio Network Platform (ReRaNP) will both enable cutting edge experimental wireless research, and support focus on Norwegian national special interests within the field.
The ReRaNP will play an important role in the development of the next generation of radio communications systems with application areas as different as in body sensor networks for health monitoring, large arctic environmental monitoring sensor networks, maritime communication, intelligent transport systems and 5G mobile communication systems.
ReRaNP is based on modular hardware and software-defined radio (SDR) providing as many as 128 antennas. Components usually implemented in hardware are instead implemented in software, enabling ReRaNP to cover many different radio system scenarios using the same equipment.
ReRaNP is designed to address two of the most promising frontiers in wireless communication, advanced sensor networks and Massive MIMO systems. Massive MIMO is a technology where the number base station antennas is much larger than the number of mobile terminals. With hundreds of antenna elements, massive MIMO can focus the energy from and to targeted terminal. By directing the wireless energy to specific terminals, radiated power is reduced and, at the same time, interference to other terminals is decreased, leading to better coverage.
The ReRaNP infrastructure will give possibilities to validate and demonstrate new algorithms and systems. Measurements will show the pitfalls, giving us the possibility to focus our research on the proper problems. This feedback from reality will increase the speed of development and realization of real Massive MIMO systems and advanced wireless sensor networks.
There is an ever-increasing demand for wireless communication systems with a focus on application driven solutions. The future wireless networks need to cope with high user densities, heterogeneous networks, mixing different types of communication nodes, and employing advanced physical layer concepts to support high data rates. The research infrastructure has to be able to offer the ability to make large-scale experiments to develop the desired features of such wireless systems.
To enable flexible experimental facilities, software defined radio (SDR) is a cost-effective and versatile tool. Recent development in SDR equipment has brought into market systems capable of experimenting with advanced concepts in large dimensional networks while using reasonably priced reconfigurable hardware units. These are able to support experiments on large scale network topologies with many nodes, small network experiments with massive number of antennas in each nodes, or variations and combinations of these in smaller dimensions. This reconfigurability of topology is supplemented by the SDR technology that offers full access to the algorithms and methods being utilized at all levels of the communication stack. This enables advanced design of new methods but also makes the system open for measurement and monitoring from the physical phenomena to the networking stack making cross layer experiment analysis a reality.
As examples of the uses of the experimental platform, two research fields in wireless communication that are of special relevance are advanced wireless sensor networks (WSN) and Massive MIMO systems. Instrumentation of the Arctic region with the current lack of available infrastructure calls for specialized radio solutions. The type of wireless sensor networks that would work in delay tolerant network requires adaptive network behavior. The Reconfigurable Radio Network Platform enables implementation of such network algorithms and tests in different environments.