World's First E-Band 5G Microwave Intelligent Beam Tracking Antenna Solution

China Unicom and Huawei completed the first 5G microwave IBT (intelligent beam tracking) antenna innovation test. This marks a breakthrough for E-band microwave deployment on shaky towers and it solves the challenge of last-mile deployment of the 5G backhaul networks, facilitating a faster rollout of 5G.

E-band microwave technology, which uses the 80 GHz band, is ideal for 5G backhaul, as it provides a high bandwidth (up to 20 Gbps), low latency, and a short time to market. However, its high operating frequency requires antennas to form small beam angles. To support this, towers need to be very stable so that they can support large-diameter antennas (0.6 m or above). In Inner Mongolia, towers, particularly those built on single pipes, tend to shake or warp in the region's strong wind or after extensive exposure to sunlight. This deteriorates the performance of E-band microwave links.

To address this issue, China Unicom and Huawei came up with the innovative IBT (intelligent beam tracking) antenna solution. The solution monitors towers for shaking and automatically stabilizes signal beams to prevent offset caused by tower body deformation. This ensures the stability of the microwave transmission link.

To test the solution, China Unicom and Huawei deployed two parallel microwave links between two test points, one link with standard and the other with IBT antennas. The result showed that, the IBT link resisted the impact of tower shaking. On the link using standard antennas, the received signal level (RSL) attenuation reached 35 dB, significantly reducing capacity and potentially risking disconnection. In contrast, the RSL of the IBT link remained stable, keeping the link at its maximum capacity and without impacting services.