Pharrowtech boosts millimetre-wave fixed wireless access coverage

Created October 16, 2018
Applications and Research

imec spin-off initiative demonstrates 60 GHz phased array system with 256 antenna elements.

Pharrowtech, a spin-off initiative from the world-leading research and innovation hub imec, is demonstrating a prototype of a 60 GHz active phased array at the Telecom Infra Project Summit in London (which runs October 16-17, 2018).

Pharrowtech says its solution “paves the way for telecom OEMs to dramatically increase range and field of view of backhaul nodes, access points and home units”. It is fully built using low-cost, high-volume chip and antenna technology. This marks an important step towards accelerated deployment of cost-effective high-speed Internet in rural, urban and suburban environments.

Fibre-to-the-home roll-out has proven prohibitively costly and slow, the research group commented. Wireless high-speed connections, known as fixed wireless access and enabled by the Pharrowtech technology, can ensure fast and reliable deployment in a broad range of scenarios where fibre-to-the-home is not feasible.

This approach eliminates the extremely high CAPEX of connecting individual premises by fibre. Leveraging the unlicensed 60 GHz band further reduces OPEX, resulting in a highly favourable total cost of ownership for telecom operators.

Wim Van Thillo, program director at imec and Pharrowtech co-founder, said: “At imec, we have been pioneering low-cost mm-wave systems since 2005. Today, our modular design offers operators full flexibility to deploy in different neighbourhood types having diverse building and vegetation densities while still meeting all regulatory requirements.

“Our prototype’s long range and large field of view are achieved through 256 antenna elements driven by 128 power amplifiers. Its proprietary chips are fully realised in high-volume CMOS technology to ensure low cost and power consumption.”

Pharrowtech is a spin-off initiative currently incubating at imec in Leuven, Belgium. The company designs next-generation solutions for fixed-wireless access, wireless VR/AR and ultra-high capacity wireless links. It is based on more than 12 years of top-notch R&D experience, performed at imec.

Leveraging deep technical expertise in algorithm, chip and antenna design for millimetre-wave systems, Pharrowtech creates products with best-in-class performance, power and cost features.

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This article was written
by Matthew Peach

Matthew Peach is a freelance technology journalist specialising in photonics and communications. He has previously worked for several business-to-business publishers, editing a range of high-tech magazines and websites.