Public summary PhD defense

Smarter wireless transmission strategies enable higher data rates

December 17, 2020

Ready for a future increase in the number of internet users

There are almost 4 billion users and 25 billion devices connected to the internet. These numbers and the network congestion that come with them are ever-increasing, and the approaching data-rate-crunch scares telecom operators. PhD candidate Yunus Can Gültekin of the department of Electrical Engineering devised a new type of communication strategies, which greatly improves the energy efficiency of wireless transmission and increases its data rates. He defended his thesis on 16 December.

Wireless communication systems exchange electromagnetic signals that are embedded with digital information. High data rates and low power consumption, enabled by the efficient design of these signals and the information embedding techniques, has been the key enabler for the information age and the so-called internet of things. However, the traditional design strategies are insufficient for providing connectivity to the growing number of users and cannot satisfy the rising demand for data.

For devices to operate at the highest efficiency, they need to transmit information in a way that suits the characteristics of the communication channel. By switching from traditional strategies to channel-aware designs, the battery life of wireless systems can be extended by more than 40 percent. The data rate can also be increased by hundreds of Mbit/s for 5G-based communication, and even more for future wireless systems utilizing larger frequency bands.

Channel-friendly signals

A basic element to include in wireless systems to improve transmission efficiency is the ‘signal shaping’ block. The function of this element is to convert digital information to wireless signals for transmission, in a way that matches the nature of the communication channel. In his research, Gültekin aimed to develop shaping blocks suitable for wireless channels. He developed algorithms that identify the most channel-friendly signals and that can still be implemented with low complexity.

He also developed a patented algorithm that reduces the transmit power of currently operating Wi-Fi systems by almost 30 percent and increases the data rate by around 20 percent. This approach is compatible with existing Wi-Fi standards, enabling a seamless transition to next-generation design strategies for Wi-Fi-based devices. Gültekin then devised two more patented low-complexity algorithms that provide the promised increase in data rates with minimal costs. His fellow researchers in the ICT Lab also showed that his algorithms increase the transmission distance for conventional fiber-optic systems by more than 400 km.

This research is an important step towards higher data rates in wireless and optical networks. Shaping blocks will be essential parts of future devices and communication standards, leading to faster connections for many more users. With Gültekin’s results, communication at the theoretical limits of efficiency is on the horizon.

Title of PhD-thesis: Enumerative Sphere Shaping Techniques for Short Blocklength Wireless Communications. Promotor: Frans Willems, TU/e. Other main parties involved: NXP Semiconductors

Barry van der Meer
(Head of Department)