Study on air interface variants and their harmonization for beyond 5g systems

  1. Flores de Valgas Torres, Fernando Josue
Supervised by:
  1. Sandra Roger Varea Director
  2. José Francisco Monserrat del Río Director

Defence university: Universitat Politècnica de València

Fecha de defensa: 18 December 2020

  1. Concepción García Pardo Chair
  2. Jaume Segura García Secretary
  3. Manuel Fuentes Muela Committee member

Type: Thesis


The standardization of the Fifth Generation of mobile networks or 5G is still ongoing, although the first releases of the standard were completed two years ago and several 5G networks are up and running in several countries around the globe. However, in 2014 when the ITU began the IMT-2020 standardization process, one of the main questions was which would be the waveform to be used on the physical layer of this new generation of technologies. The 3GPP committed to submit a candidate technology to the IMT-2020 process, and that is how within this deliberation process several candidate waveforms were presented. After a thorough evaluation regarding several aspects, in 2016 the 3GPP decided to continue with CP-OFDM (used in 4G) but including, as a novelty, the use of a flexible numerology. Once the waveform was decided, the standardization process continued to fine-tune the frame structure and all the intrinsic aspects of it. This thesis accompanied and participated in this entire process. To begin with, this dissertation evaluates the main 5G candidate waveforms. Therefore, a theoretical analysis of each waveform is carried out, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses, both at the implementation and performance levels. Subsequently, a real implementation on a Software Defined Radio platform of three of the most promising waveforms (CP-OFDM, UFMC, and OQAM-FBMC) is presented, which allows evaluating their performance in terms of bit error rate, as well as the complexity of its implementation. This thesis also proposes the use of a harmonized solution as a waveform for 5G and argues that it remains a viable option for systems beyond 5G. Since none of the candidate waveforms was capable of meeting on its own with all the requirements for 5G, instead of choosing a single waveform, this thesis proposes to build a transceiver capable of building all the main waveforms candidates (CP-OFDM, P-OFDM, UFMC, QAM-FBMC, OQAM-FBMC). This is achieved by identifying the common blocks between the waveforms and then integrating them with the rest of the essential blocks for each waveform. The motivation for this solution is to have a physical layer that is capable of complying with all aspects of beyond 5G technologies, always selecting the best waveform according to the scenario. This proposal is evaluated in terms of complexity, and the results are compared with the complexity of each waveform. The decision to continue with CP-OFDM with flexible numerology as a waveform for 5G can also be considered as a harmonized solution, since changing the cyclic prefix and the number of subcarriers, changes also the performance of the system. In this thesis, all the numerologies proposed by the 3GPP are evaluated on each of the channel models described for 5G (and considered valid for beyond 5G systems), taking into account factors such as the mobility of the user equipment and the operating frequency. For this, a 3GPP physical layer simulator is used, and proper adaptations are made in order to evaluate the performance of the numerologies in terms of the block error rate. Finally, a sketch of what could become the Sixth Generation of mobile networks or 6G is presented, with the aim of understanding the new applications that could be used in the future, as well as their needs. After the completion of the study carried out in this thesis, it can be said that, as stated from the beginning, for both 5G and beyond 5G systems, the solution is the waveform harmonization. From the results obtained, it can be corroborated that a harmonized solution allows achieving computational savings between 25-40% for the transmitter and 15-25% for the receiver. In addition, it is possible to identify which CP-OFDM numerology is the most appropriate for each scenario, which would allow optimizing the design and deployment of 5G networks. This would open the door to doing the same with 6G, i.e., a harmonized solution with different waveforms, instead of just one as in 5G.