Start Up Develops Full-Duplex Relay Technology to Provide Access and Backhaul on the Same Channel

Kumu Networks, a Stanford-born startup has developed a full-duplex relay technology that enables small cells to self-backhaul by using the same channel to provide access and backhaul. Wireless Full Duplex is a technology that allows a radio to simultaneously transmit and receive overlapping signals using a single frequency channel. Full-duplex communications would allow a node to send and receive data at the same time in the same channel which essentially doubles the capacity of a telecommunications system.

This first of its kind technology is soon expected to move out of the lab for field trial stages and first general deployment. The company has had several successful commercial field trials in 2016, and is now beginning to deploy in live networks this year.

One of past trials for Kumu was with Italian mobile operator TIM, who conducted a test in the vicinity of Turin, Italy. According to TIM, the technology will allow mobile transmissions in downlink and uplink to travel at the same time, even if they are of different intensities,. This is ideal for 4G small cells in areas where there is no traditional backhaul solution available.

The field trials throughout 2016 helped Kumu Networks understand that the full duplex relay has a number of benefits in enhancing capacity in consumer hot spots and also extending coverage in areas where it’s difficult to get traditional backhaul. Based on trials the technology helps achieve a two-time to five-time capacity boost, helping LTE networks actually deliver their peak rates and bridge the gap between reality and expectation.

In the context of a centralized radio access network architecture, which centralizes the baseband unit and uses fiber to connect remote radio heads, the integrated full-duplex is an interesting complex from a future looking perspective. Kumu Network believes that as applications stream a large amount of data to the cloud in the future, and a prospect of two separate networks rises: narrowband IoT for the uplink, millimeter wave for the downstream; there’s a huge opportunity, effectively, to use full-duplex to reuse the spectrum being used on the downlink for machine traffic on the uplink.

Kumu Networks has a commercial-ready full-duplex relay ready to go and is now working on a single-chip solution with the goal of a commercial launch in 2018.