India's first 5G Massive MIMO Radio at IIT Delhi

India's first 5G Massive MIMO Radio was inaugurated at IIT Delhi on April 13.The lab has been set up in Bharti School of Telecom Technology and Management.

Prof. Saif Khan Mohammed, and his team from the Bharti School of Telecom Technology and Management, IIT Delhi have been conducting research on physical layer algorithms for Massive MIMO systems for the last five years. The lab houses India's first 5G Massive MIMO equipment, which has a 32 antenna base station. This 5G base station prototype will be used to test and verify algorithms, and also for developing a complete 5G base station which can possibly lead to the manufacturing of 5G base stations in India with support/collaboration from industry and will also be instrumental in generating skilled manpower in this field.

Prof. Brejesh Lall, Head Bharti School of Telecom Technology and Management said that the activities of the lab are geared towards the larger goal of the school; contributing to the 5G and IoT ecosystem in India and globally. The lab will also play a key role in the IIT Delhi activities of the multi-institute 5G testbed being built as a collaborative effort of all the top engineering institutes in the country. The school also houses a 5G centre of excellence and a digital innovations lab focused on IoT activities. The activities of this lab in conjunction with the other labs in the school will be instrumental in generating Intellectual Property, supporting industry and generating skilled manpower in the area of Telecommunications.

Prof. Ramgopal Rao, Director IIT Delhi who is a member of the High Level Forum for 5G India 2020 has reaffirmed IIT Delhi’s commitment to contribute to national goals towards establishing India as a major player in 5G technologies.

The standardization of fifth generation (5G) cellular wireless communication standard is currently underway in 3GPP and other forums. Compared to its predecessors, the fifth generation communication technologies promise very high communication speed and ubiquitous connectivity. It is also designed to support various new application scenarios like machine-to-machine communication and tactile communication (e.g., factory automation, remote surgery and driverless car).

In the past, compared to other developing countries like China, there has been little participation of Indian academia and industry in the standardization, R & D and manufacturing of 2G/3G/4G telecommunication equipment (e.g., base station). This is one reason why the telecom operators in India have to import equipment from foreign vendors at very high cost. This cost is ultimately borne by the end user who ends up paying high tariff. If cellular telecommunication equipment is manufactured in India, then it will also be financially viable for the operators to provide broadband access in rural areas, which has been an important agenda of the Digital India program.

Therefore, in 5G, Indian academia and industry should take active participation in the standardization, R&D and manufacturing of 5G-telecommunication equipment. To enable this, the research team have setup a 5G Radio prototype based on Massive MIMO, which is the leading 5G technology. In Massive MIMO, several tens of antennas are deployed at the base station as compared to only a few antennas in 3G/4G. This large antenna array at the base station allows the network to communicate reliably with a very large number of mobile terminals simultaneously at the same time and on the same frequency channel. The large antenna array also improves the system power efficiency, as the mobile terminals will now be required to radiate ten times lesser power than in 3G/4G systems. This in turn reduces interference to other radio systems and also reduces possible effects of exposure to radiation on our health.