RF Safety in Future Wireless Communications

Principal Investigator
Research Students
Bryse Flowers
Song Wang
Project Description

5G RF Safety

This project is in collaboration with RF Check, and other industry partners,  including interested CWC member companies. The focus of this project will be to  determine how RF emissions from the antennas of 5G base stations and small cells deployed in homes, buildings and neighborhoods, including sub-6 GHz and mmWave,  may impact human exposure levels based on various technology parameters and  implementations for commercial deployments as per existing RF emission regulations.  This will be accomplished with RF Check experts and experts from the Industry Partners  and Companies involved in Wireless Industry related to RF.

The outcomes of this project will be:

  • Publicize the RF Safety Parameters: Publish the Study results and propose any new methodology or formulas identified that can further address or improve the  issue of RF safety and human exposure at base stations.
     
  • Address specific public concerns regarding RF safety (at cell sites or base  stations), especially with respect to new technology such as 5G
    • Provide objective data to allow the public to make informed decisions  regarding the safety of base stations (e.g. 5G exposure levels comparison  to other accepted wireless technologies)
    • Provide report on conclusions on the safety of base stations that would be  recognized by the specific community
       
  • Contribute to updating of the Industry Standards related to Base Station Antenna  RF Exposure, Compliance and Safety in appropriate Industry Organizations.

More details about the project and timelines are below.

Project Goal:

Determine how RF emissions from Base Stations/Cell Sites/Small  Cells/etc. impact human exposure levels based on various technology parameters and  implementation including:

  • Wireless Spectrum (Licensed and Unlicensed) Globally – Low-band, Mid-band,  High-band as defined in 3GPP
  • Frequency (FDD & TDD) and Bandwidth
  • Antenna Technology & Size
  • MIMO – 2x2, 4x4, Massive MIMO
  • 64 QAM, 256 QAM, 1024 QAM
  • mmWave
  • Antenna Arrays
  • Beam Forming
  • Carrier Aggregation
  • Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)
  • Narrowband IOT (NB-IOT)

Some of the steps required for this project:

  • RF & EMF Measurements Parameters: For each existing and new technology,  determine the RF safety related parameters to be measured to determine  compliance with current Regulatory guidelines.
  • Measurements Tools/Equipment: Identify the Tools & Equipment to measure the RF safety parameters
  • Measurement Methodology: Create the Measurement Test Plan and perform the measurements.
  • Validate the Results: Based on the data collected and related formulas, review  the results and solicit feedback from industry experts and validate conclusions.
  • Publicize the RF Safety Parameters: Publish the Study results and propose any  new methodology or formulas identified that can further address or improve the  issue of RF safety and human exposure at base stations. Work with Wireless Carriers, Industry Organizations and Industry Technical Experts to gain support.
  • Address specific public concerns regarding RF safety (at cell sites or base stations), especially with respect to new technology such as 5G
    • Provide objective data to allow the public to make informed decisions  regarding the safety of base stations (e.g. 5G exposure levels comparison  to other accepted wireless technologies
    • Provide independent (involvement by universities, technical experts,  regulators) report on conclusions on the safety of base stations that would  be recognized by the specific community
  • Update the Industry RF Safety Standards: Update the Industry Standards related  to Base Station Antenna RF Exposure, Compliance and Safety in appropriate  Industry Organizations - (IEEE/ICES/ICNIRP/FCC).

 

Phases Based on the project goals, some of the technology parameters can be implemented and evaluated using existing or already developed devices at UCSD. However, some parameters need development of new equipment which demand longer time for development, implementation and measurements. We segregate the technology parameters into two sets – Set 1: the parameters can be tested with existing USRP N310 devices and 60 GHz millimeter-wave software radios at UCSD, and Set 2: this will engage in measuring parameters with 28 GHz software radio and sub-6 GHz massive MIMO radios. In particular, we can evaluate the following technology parameters for each set as mentioned in the table below.

Set 1

Set 2

1. Impacts of different spectrum below 6  GHz (Licensed and Unlicensed).

2. Impacts of modulation schemes (64 QAM,  256 QAM, 1024 QAM).

3. Impact of sub-6GHz carrier aggregation.

4. Emission power of millimeter-wave  frequency bands.

5. Impacts of analog beamforming and  hybrid beamforming at 60 GHz  millimeter-wave bands.

6. Impacts of antenna array configurations  at 60 GHz (multi-array with different  layout and array combinations)

7. Impact of dynamic spectrum sharing (e.g.,  LTE unlicensed).

8. Power emission from NB-IoT.

1. Emission power of  millimeter-wave frequency  bands around 28 GHz (used  by 5G NR).

2. Impacts of analog  beamforming and hybrid  beamforming at 28 GHz  millimeter-wave bands.

3. Power emission from MIMO  and massive MIMO  beamforming (2x2, 4x4, 32- antenna Massive MIMO) at  sub-6 GHz frequencies

 

The development for set 2 will take longer time and therefore we propose to split the  project in two phases over two years of time period. Majority of the tasks for set 1 are  expected to be completed in phase 1 in the first year. 

Project Tasks

The following tasks in the two phases of the projects:

Phase 1: (Year 1)

Y1T1: Literature review about prior work in health impacts of RF emissions, a  summary of the differences between prior and next generation wireless systems, and a  summary of current regulations for RF emission from wireless communications (in  particular, 4G, WiFi, and 5G NR). Consultation with Wireless Industry RF experts on  Technical requirements & details as per the industry guidelines.

Y1T2: Prepare a test plan that explicitly outlines the testbed (including test devices to  be used), proposed measurements, measurement locations, and timelines for execution.

Y1T3: Based on an already developed testbed, start testing/measurement/evaluation of  selected technology parameters of Set 1 (items 1-4) in the UCSD campus; invite  partner/sponsor to campus to demonstrate at Jacobs/Atkinsons Hall and obtain  feedback.

Y1T4: Continue measurement campaign for the parameters of set 1 (items 1-4, and  new parameters 5-8); Deliver a summary report along with measurement data and  evaluation of the parameters. 

Y1T5: Start development of the testbed (equipment needed) for Set 2.

YIT6: Publicize the research and findings; (1) Discuss the goals and plans for the  research at a panel at the CWC 5G and Beyond Forum, with panel moderated by RF  Check and panel participants from various stakeholders like UCSD, telecom operators,  industry organizations, FCC etc. (2) Publish results in leading IEEE conferences.

Phase 2: (Year 2)

Y2T1: Develop testbed for Set 2, including acquiring and deploying new devices needed.

Y2T2: Evaluate the technology parameters of Set 2 in the UCSD campus. Solicit  feedback, review the parameters for Set 1 and Set 2, and redo some of the measurements  if necessary.

Y2T3: A more comprehensive measurement campaign for the parameters (both set 1  and 2). Deliver a summary report along with measurement data and findings.

Y2T4: Create a final report, publish the results at leading technical conference(s) and  journal(s), including measurement dataset, and any new methodology and formula.

Y2T5: Publicize the research findings at the CWC 5G and Beyond Forum and other  partner Forums; Work with one or more of the wireless organizations like CTIA, GSMA,  TIP and NGMN to organize a session at their forum(s) to publicize the findings.