Battelle RavenStar™ Antenna Technology Achieves Telecommunications Industry First at Famed VT-ARC Testing Site
Revolutionary ultra-wideband massive MIMO integrated antenna radio unit successfully performs across bands from 600 MHz to 7 GHz
COLUMBUS, Ohio and BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Jan. 17, 2024)—A new telecommunications technology developed by Battelle has achieved a significant performance milestone, bringing confidence that it will revolutionize the front end of telecom infrastructure in the next few years.
Battelle RavenStar™ antenna technology successfully demonstrated ultra-wideband capabilities at the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation’s (VT-ARC) 5G/XG field test site near Blacksburg, Virginia. The first-ever broadband massive MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output), digitally steered radio unit supports multiple protocols simultaneously from a single array, including 4G and 5G. The demonstration system, which was developed by Battelle following years of research and prototyping in the United States, is the first radio unit to be able to cover 600Mhz to 7Ghz with a single aperture.
"This decade-long, internally funded system will provide owners of spectrum the ability to operate simultaneously in any bands they may own while making those bands capable of carrying four times as much data,” said Matt Vaughan, President of Battelle’s Applied Science and Technology business. “Battelle RavenStar will allow network operators to future-proof their capital expenditures as their spectrum ownership changes and allow a fast and seamless transition to different standards.”
Because of its compact size, Battelle RavenStar antenna technology can be used to replace multiple boxes on cell towers. Additionally, it makes shared sites viable in small cells, stadiums, urban environments, as well as in underserved rural regions. It will provide coverage over larger land areas and streamline installation timelines.
Today, it is not uncommon to have more than a dozen antennas on a single tower operating at a variety of frequencies. Battelle RavenStar antenna technology covers all the frequency bands from one small box. Feedback from major wireless operators and neutral host providers has been positive.
“We just accomplished something that no one has ever done,” said Doug Thornton, Technical Director for the RavenStar program. “Our team’s antenna/radio combo unit measures less than one cubic foot and will cut costs for the industry. It also reduces the number of devices needed to provide constant high-bandwidth delivery to commercial mobile phones. Unlike other approaches to MIMO and spectrum maximization, our solution innovates at the aperture. In essence our innovation is in physics, not software.”
The VT-ARC 5G/XG field test site provided an optimal environment to demonstrate a standards-compliant interoperability, as well as end-to-end testing with the 5G network using the open radio access network (O-RAN) alliance 7.2x split.
Battelle Product Development Senior Director Mark Reudink is the former Chair of the Small Cell Forum and former board member of 5G Americas. “Having worked at mobile network operators and wireless infrastructure companies, I can personally attest that the capabilities RavenStar antenna technology provides has been sought for decades,” he said. “This field demonstration shows that our solution is ready to be integrated into commercial wireless networks.”
Battelle RavenStar antenna technology will be deployed in the southwest United States to collect additional performance data to mature the system in another challenging operating environment.
Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. For more information, visit www.battelle.org.
About Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation
VT-ARC is a 501(c)(3), non-profit R&D organization affiliated with Virginia Tech which brings together over 120 years of combined wireless communication expertise. A key feature of the Engineering, Test and Evaluation Division (ETED) at VT-ARC, is their foray into the Open RAN (ORAN) test and integration domain, which utilizes parallel 5G ORAN and 3GPP spec testbeds to conduct research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E) for industry, academia and government organizations. As an organization with significant experience in the national security domain, they offer a wide range of cleared personal and facilities at the TS/SCI level, while also retaining the ability to execute projects which require restricted access, such as ITAR compliance. It builds highly collaborative ecosystems that advance science, progresses research and enables the integration of cutting-edge capabilities across multiple domains.