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NIST Measures of Trees’ Impact on 5G Transmissions

As 5G technology gets fully implemented over the next several years, cellphones and other wireless tech will grow more powerful with increased data flow and lower latency. Millimetre waves carry more information than conventional transmissions do, but they also usefully occupy a portion of the broadcast spectrum that communication technologies seldom use – a major concern in an age when broadcasters vie for portions of the spectrum like prospectors staking out territory.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is working to measure the effect trees and foliage have on the millimetre waves 5G transmissions are expected to use. 5G promises lower latencies and increased data flow, but new cell network designers must reckon with the technology’s shortcomings. 5G uses millimetre waves that have limited ability to penetrate obstacles, such as buildings, trees and even inclement weather like rain or snow.

The 5G era will feature wireless communication not only between people but also between devices connected to the Internet of Things. The increased demand for larger downloads by cell customers and lag-free network response by gamers has spurred the wireless industry to pursue speedier, more effective communication.

As wireless communication evolves from primarily a person-to-person exchange to cover a rapidly expanding network of connected devices, cities and carriers that are building out their 5G networks are looking for guidance on how to tackle the issue of interference caused by trees. NIST researchers are conducting tests on seven different types of trees, during different seasons of the year. The leafier the tree, the more the waves lose their strength,

We will be able to do new things if our machines can exchange and process information quickly and effectively. But you need a good communication infrastructure. The idea is to connect, process data in one place and do things with it elsewhere. The tree study is one of the few out there that looks at the same tree’s effect on a particular signal frequency through different seasons. We couldn’t only do the survey in the winter, because things would have changed by summer. It turns out that even the shape of leaves affects whether a signal will reflect or get through.

– Nada Golmie, Head of NIST Wireless Networks Division, Communications Technology Laboratory

The measurements the team made are intended mainly for companies that create models of how different objects affect millimetre waves. The company used the measurement data NIST shared with it to tune the tree simulation models, which cell companies use to plan out their networks of antennas in detail.

NIST’s collaboration with the company contributed to guidance issued by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the organisation that creates guidelines for telecom standards. The results now appear as a new section on trees in ITU’s. This publication serves as a reference for signal propagation models, which others will develop.

 As reported by OpenGov Asia, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is requesting input from the public that will inform the development of AI risk management guidance.

Responses to the Request for Information (RFI), which appeared in the Federal Register, will help NIST draft an Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Framework (AI RMF), a guidance document for voluntary use intended to help technology developers, users and evaluators improve the trustworthiness of AI systems. The draft AI RMF will answer a direction from Congress for NIST to develop the framework, and it also forms part of NIST’s response to the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in AI.


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