Simultaneous Wireless Power and Data Transfer for 5G O-RAN

By Yan Shi

5G O-RAN is rapidly gaining a huge fan base for opening the door to so many possibilities. But it needs continuous power and high reliability to be sustainable. Add data communication and it’s downright irresistible.

What’s happening with 5G O-RAN?

At present, Open RAN (or O-RAN, open radio access network) is a hot topic in the telecom and wireless product industries. According to a recent market survey [1], 5G O-RAN is expected to be dominant in RAN market with $22B in 2030 with a growth rate of 52% as compared to a 4G growth rate of 31% between 2022 and 2030. 

To speed up the adoption of 5G and support advanced applications, the U.S. government is leveraging O-RAN as a prominent feature of 5G policy. Mobile network operators (MNOs), such as T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, have widely deployed O-RAN architecture globally.

With these 5G O-RAN solutions, online VR gaming at home with zero frame drop is feasible. Also, an extraordinary number of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices are foreseen to realize various smart and advanced applications, such as smart home and smart industry.

3GPP Release 16 (5G phase 2) has expedited this trend by expanding from traditional mobile broadcast standardization toward covering all the IoT requirements, such as mMTC, URLLC, and V2X.

Over the next decade, 5G ORAN deployments will create new opportunities and big profits for enterprises and consumers, this latest convergence of data transmission will speed delivery of transformative new services for everything from AI and IoT to autonomous vehicles, private mobile networks, and more. However, IoT devices are often powered by a battery because they do not have easy access to a power supply, and they are expected to operate without human intervention for months or even years.

Therefore, there’s just one hitch: to fully enable 5G O-RAN, continuous battery power and high reliability are required.

The Challenge: Continuous Battery Power and High Reliability Are Required

To support those increasing IoT and mobile applications, continuous battery power and high reliability are needed. For example, recent reports confirm that the latest Meta Quest Pro battery life only lasts 1-2 hours with non-replaceable battery [2].

Normally, IoT devices set strict requirements for wireless reliability. MCU data processing, sensor operation, and radio communication of these IoT devices are powered by their embedded batteries with limited lasting time.

In addition, several dead devices in a typical sensor network may significantly degrade the system operation, such as autonomous driving sensing and intelligent logistics operation. Replacing batteries for these small-sized IoT devices is a tedious job, which can lead to service delays and significant maintenance costs. Researchers and engineers have been spending huge efforts on traditional procedures of reducing power consumption with software and hardware, but the progress is limited due to the limitation of IoT devices. Can we find a way to break new ground to solve this problem?

The good news is, there’s already a fully functional solution that can handle continuous power, high reliability, AND data communication all at the same time.

The Solution: Wireless Power Transfer with Simultaneous Data Communication

Spurred by the recent technological developments such as the virtualization of cellular networks and the advent of Software Defined Networks (SDN) that have proliferated the use of O-RAN in 5G deployment [3], O-RAN not only forever changes the way telecommunications companies build their networks, but also supports new applications, such as wireless power transfer. In fact, with the benefits of softwarization, disaggregation, and artificial intelligence (AI), O-RAN has an ideal platform that can leverage wireless power transfer (WPT) and deliver data communication simultaneously.

How Does Wireless Power Transfer Work?

WPT means transmission of radio frequency power from a small-sized base station transmitter to another through the air over tens to hundreds of meters, just like 5G or Wi-Fi signal propagation [4]. It can provide instantaneous and continuous power delivery. Cota Real Wireless Power is a radio frequency-based example of WPT over air and at a distance.

Delivering Wireless Power and a 5G Connection Is Possible

Taking the concept further, it would be extremely valuable for companies to provide both wireless power transfer and 5G connections to users at the same time. This innovation is practical thanks to the “openness” evolution of O-RAN to entail new and advanced applications.

Similar to how wireless communication works for an end user scheduled with data slots by frequency and time, a wireless power transmitter delivers “power slots” intelligently and remotely to charge low-power devices. The Cota Real Wireless Power utilizes power on demand (POD) protocol; this is a power request first sent from power receiver, and power transmitter then issues “power slots” with priority considered during scheduling

Are you dreaming up ways wireless power will propel your telecom industry to provide simultaneous wireless power transfer and data transmission? We’d love to hear from you.