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‘Reconfigurable intelligent surfaces key to success of 6G’

By Guardian Nigeria
07 September 2022   |   3:10 am
With the fifth-generation (5G), at last, gaining commercial traction, the debate about the sixth-generation (6G) is now looking at what it might offer in practical terms.

With the fifth-generation (5G), at last, gaining commercial traction, the debate about the sixth-generation (6G) is now looking at what it might offer in practical terms. Attention is turning towards how the industry can ensure that 6G, unlike some other transformational technologies, is not a triumph of hype over reality.
  
Hitherto, scientists and engineers have spent decades developing ever more efficient transmitters and receivers and working out ways to mitigate the inevitable signal loss at the endpoints of a radio channel as they turned to higher and higher frequencies to obviate bandwidth congestion.
  


TelecomTV reported that scientists claimed that they have done brilliantly, but it is evident that they are reaching a point where transmitters and receivers are as efficient as physically possible so the focus is now on engineering the wireless channel itself.
  
According to scientists, one of the potentially most viable approaches to 6G infrastructure is the use of Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS) technology. This is an artificial planar structure – that is to say, lying in a plane, and thus, by definition, two-dimensional – with integrated electronic circuits that can be programmed dynamically to reflect, refract and manipulate incoming electromagnetic fields.
 
RIS elements come in sizes ranging from about 100 square centimetres up to about five square metres or even bigger and cost a good deal less than traditional cellular antennas.      
   
Accordingly, RIS products are, to all intents and purposes, passive, which means they don’t need amplifiers to boost the signal and so can be powered with a simple battery and a small solar panel.
   
Already, reports claimed that thousands of scientists and researchers in the US, Europe and Asia are experimenting with RIS to develop easily programmed and intelligent wireless applications.

Some of those teams are working in-house for equipment vendors, some are working in university laboratories and yet more are employed by big network operators.
   
Among the companies known to be involved in the research are BT, China Mobile, China Telecom, Huawei, Ericsson, NEC, Nokia, NTT Docomo, Orange, Samsung and ZTE.
  
Interestingly, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reports and papers show that scientists in Asia, in particular, are concentrating on extending in-building wireless coverage indoors by affixing transparent RIS film to windows, allowing 6G signals to be refracted and increased in strength as they pass through a film and into a building.

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