What 5G Engineers Can Learn from Radio Interference’s Troubled Past

Radio interference is an old problem, but 5G and other forms of digital radio may tackle it in new ways

12 min read
Image showing interfering emanations from wireless audiovisual transmitters.
We’re Jammin’, Jammin’: A clean signal for 802.11b Wi-Fi communications (top) shows radio power arrayed in broad humps around various Wi-Fi channels (1 through 14) But Wi-Fi has to contend with interfering emanations from such things as wireless audiovisual transmitters (middle) and microwave ovens (bottom).
Image: MetaGeek

The last—and only—radio innovator having no reason to think about interference was Heinrich Hertz, when he fired up the world’s first radio transmitter in 1886. Once he turned on a second one, he created the potential for interference. It’s been a problem ever since.

Indeed, the problem is now acute and could easily get much worse. That’s because 5G [pdf] mobile data service is on the way, promising as much as gigabit-per-second data connections over short distances. In advance of the 5G rollout, which should begin around 2020, engineers are working through all the usual concerns, including frequency choices, propagation, reliability, and battery life—plus one more: keeping transmissions from millions of very small, very mobile radios from interfering with one another. If these engineers don’t solve this problem, digital services on your phone won’t be much better than they are now.

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Video Friday: Drone in a Cage

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

3 min read
A drone inside of a protective geometric cage flies through a dark rain

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

ICRA 2022: 23 May–27 May 2022, PHILADELPHIA
IEEE ARSO 2022: 28 May–30 May 2022, LONG BEACH, CALIF.
RSS 2022: 21 June–1 July 2022, NEW YORK CITY
ERF 2022: 28 June–30 June 2022, ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS
RoboCup 2022: 11 July–17 July 2022, BANGKOK
IEEE CASE 2022: 20 August–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12 September–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Remembering 1982 IEEE President Robert Larson

He was a supporter of several IEEE programs including Smart Village

3 min read
A photo of two men in suits.  One behind the other.

Robert Larson [left] with IEEE Life Fellow Eric Herz, who served as IEEE general manager and executive director.

IEEE History Center

Robert E. Larson, 1982 IEEE president, died on 10 March at the age of 83.

An active volunteer who held many high-level positions throughout the organization, Larson was the 1975–1976 president of the IEEE Control Systems Society and also served as IEEE Foundation president.

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Modern System Level Design for Aerospace & Defense

Join this webinar series to learn the most important aspects of modern system-level design for RF and microwave applications in aerospace and defense

1 min read
Keysight
Keysight

More than ever, aerospace and defense companies must lower costs, accelerate their R&D, and reduce risk, all while simultaneously maintaining a high level of mission readiness. Register for this free webinar now!

Keysight is addressing these design challenges for RF and microwave applications, particularly for aerospace and defense applications.

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