A postgraduate student from the University of Bristol has won five separate awards for work on the next generation of 5G wireless technology.

Paul Harris, from the University’s EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Communications, together with Steffen Malkowsky, from the University of Lund in Sweden, won the Wireless and Mobile Communications category together with four other awards at the Engineering Impact Awards from National Instruments (NI) in Austin, Texas.

The Engineering Impact Awards showcase extraordinary and innovative projects. Over 100 entries were submitted, which were narrowed down to 14 finalists in seven areas. Paul and Steffen used a massive 128-antenna testbed to demonstrate simultaneous real-time wireless connections to multiple users in the same radio channel using a technique known as spatial multiplexing.

They showed how 12 users could be simultaneously connected using a single 20MHz channel at 3.5GHz. They achieved this using a data rate of 1.59Gbps and set a new world record in wireless spectrum efficiency of 79.4bit/s/Hz.

“Massive MIMO is the 5G technology of choice”


“We’re justifiably proud of Paul and Steffen and these awards truly exemplifies both their technical contributions to the field of 5G wireless spectral efficiency and our collaborations with European universities and the NI engineering team in the US,” said Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Manager of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Communications. The two also won the NI Engineering Grand Challenges Award, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Edgeline Big Analogue Data Award, the Powered by Xilinx Award, and the 2016 Customer Application of the Year Award.

International technology showcase

The research team’s achievement with massive MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) arrays, which are cellular base stations with more than 100 antennas. This is a key technology for 5G, and the hardware for the demo came from Bristol Is Open alongside a flexible prototyping platform based on LabVIEW system design software and PXI hardware from NI. In May, Bristol and Lund supported 22 simultaneous users, setting a new world record of 145.6bit/s/Hz.

“The demands for mobile data are increasing exponentially and operators are struggling to keep up”


“The demands for mobile data are increasing exponentially and operators are struggling to keep up,” said Professor Andrew Nix, Dean of Engineering and Head of the CSN research group, speaking at the NI event to over 3200 engineers. “In the sub 6GHz bands, Massive MIMO is the 5G technology of choice. By breaking the work spectral efficiency record twice, compared to 4G we’ve managed to demonstrate an order of magnitude increase in spectral efficiency.”

You can see more about their record-breaking achievement in the video below: