NTT Docomo has developed the world’s first Pinching antenna, which can be used to deploy communication area for mobile communications simply by pinching a cable and tested it in the 60 GHz band.
The 28 GHz band (millimeter wave) used in 5G, and high frequency bands being developed for 6G, are highly directional, meaning that providing signal coverage to areas that do not have line of sight to the base station, or areas surrounded by obstacles, is a challenge.
The antenna developed by NTT Docomo is designed to enable providing stable communication environment with high precision for the high frequency bands used in 5G and later generations. The technology will be helpful in expanding the applications for communications via high frequency bands in places where people and objects might serve as obstacles, such as deploying communication area to the interiors of factories, and allowing office layouts to be arranged more freely.
The antenna itself is comprised of a type of transmission line for high frequency band called a “dielectric waveguide.” Using the phenomenon by which signal leaks from the line when it is pinched with a plastic clip at an arbitrary point along its length, it is possible to deploy communication area at any places surrounding the pinched location.
The cable can be pinched anywhere along its length to add that location to the covered area, including multiple locations along the length of the line, so high speed communications are available quickly any time and any place they are needed.
Furthermore, simply removing the clip will cease the broadcast of the signal in a given location where it is no longer necessary. This can result in a reduction of radio interference and the strengthening of signal in other areas, allowing highly flexible control of coverage.
Dielectric waveguides are expected to be applicable to higher frequency bands used in 5G and Beyond, so Docomo expects that the technology will be a useful tool for deploy communication area in the 5G and 6G bands in a wide range of situations.
The details of this antenna were made public during the Docomo Open House 2021 held online from February 4 through February 7.
NTT Docomo will begin testing the antenna in the 28 GHz band for deploying communication area of 5G services in early 2021 as part of their effort to achieve practical application for the technology.