The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is building a 5G Spectrum Sharing Test Bed to measure how well 5G, Wi-Fi, GPS, and military radar can operate without interfering with each other, the agency announced in a March 18 press release.

The test bed, and other NIST instruments to measure 5G connectivity, will help industry optimize 5G product design based on new spectrum sharing data. Specifically, the test bed should clarify how different network settings and environments interfere with the 5G frequency bands and the channels that they travel through.

“System designers need to know how fast they can send and receive data with a given level of reliability,” said Kate Remley, NIST engineer and co-chair of the 5G mmWave Channel Model Alliance. “Having a number of representative channel models allows system designers to develop electronics that will operate reliably in common environments.”

5G transmissions currently operate at a much higher frequency than mobile devices. While most consumer Wi-Fi devices operate below 3 gigahertz, 5G relies on frequency bands up to 300 gigahertz. The higher frequency carries more than 1,000 times the capacity of the traditional systems, but they lose a lot of strength as they travel to connect. NIST says that it is working to fill these gaps.

“The 5G NIST test bed will enable us to develop and perform quantitative measurements of spectrum sharing or interference scenarios that are either already deployed or under consideration,” NIST engineer Jason Coder said.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.