Dr. Andreas Frotzscher

Fraunhofer IIS/EAS

24/7 Realtime Radio Channel Monitoring for Industrial Wireless Communication

Wireless communication systems are an important enabler for flexible, efficient and intelligent production processes and intralogistics in Industry 4.0. In the past, WiFi, Bluetooth and RFID were the most widely used. Since they operate in the unlicensed radio frequency band without coordinating access to the wireless medium, mutual interference between co-located wireless networks is very common.
With 5G and DECT 2020 NR, two new technologies are already being evaluated in various test environments and are expected to be deployed soon. They offer much better performance in terms of transmission latencies (< 1ms) and transmission reliability (transmission failures of less than 10^-5). According to these demanding performance levels per year not more than 11 minutes of unplanned network outages is acceptable. Companies can apply to the Bundesnetzagentur for using the frequency band in 3.7 – 3.8 GHz for operating a private 5G campus network. But, as the Bundesnetzagentur does not manage the coexistence between adjacent private 5G campus networks, it’s the responsibility of the campus network operators themselves. This means that at any time, interference from neighboring 5G networks can disrupt communications in their own private 5G network, somehow similar as it is the case for WiFi and other networks in the unlicensed frequency bands.
Therefore, coexistence management is required in all cases. Currently, this problem is addressed manually through a combination of spectrum management and on-site inspections. However, this approach can only capture a snapshot of radio frequency band usage and thus does not cover the time-varying nature of wireless communications.
For this purpose, Fraunhofer IIS/EAS developed a surveillance system for seamless, permanent 24/7 spectrum sensing of the radio frequency bands used for wireless communications. Within a radius of > 50 m, it detects all wireless transmissions in the monitored frequency band in real time and classifies the active radio technologies with > 96% precision. It provides a complete overview of which radio systems are active in which frequency channels and to what extent. It also informs about interference between neighboring wireless communication systems and can alert the service team. This helps to detect emerging coexistence problems in advance and speeds up troubleshooting. In the demo we will present the system to the attendees, showing its capabilities and usability.

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