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CMU Portugal Inside Story: Interview with Kazi Huq, “THz – Communication for Beyond 5G Ultra-fast Networks” project PI

Kazi Mohammed Saidul Huq is the Principal Investigator of the the THz – Communication for Beyond 5G Ultra-fast Networks, one of the 8 Exploratory Research Projects (ERPs) that the CMU Portugal Program has currently running. These projects were selected through a Call for Exploratory Research projects, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) with the main objective of promoting cutting edge research in ICT.

The project PI is leading the research at the Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT) of Universidade de Aveiro (UA) and in a brief interview explained the goal and focus of this work.

The goal of the THZ project is to “look beyond 5G”. What does this mean and how do you propose to do it?

At the verge of the beyond 5G (B5G) mobile communications era, it is widely agreed that B5G networks should achieve greater system capacity (>100 times compared to 5G networks), higher data rate (in the range of terabits-per-second (Tbps)), and greater user density (to adequately support the Internet of Things (IoT) and Nano-Things paradigms). These enhancements are based on the predicted monthly smartphones traffic that should reach 136 exabytes by 2024, i.e., about 4 times the amount of traffic registered in today’s networks (33 exabytes in 2019). As a result, there is significant interest in the development of innovative solutions for B5G ultra-fast dense heterogeneous networks. It is generally accepted that there are three major ways to obtain several orders of increase in throughput gain: extreme densification of the communication infrastructure, large quantities of newly available spectrum, and massive antenna systems, allowing a throughput gain in the spatial dimension. One of the solutions to fulfill such demanding requirements is to use more bandwidth beyond the microwave (μWave) and millimeter-wave (mmWave) spectra, toward higher frequencies in the Terahertz (THz) frequency range.  THz-band communication is envisioned as a key wireless technology to satisfy real-time traffic demand for beyond 5G systems by diminishing the spectrum scarcity and capacity limitations of current wireless systems.

Briefly, can you explain us what is the main focus of the “THz – Communication for Beyond 5G Ultra-fast Networks” project?

The primary focus of this project is to identify key use cases and frequency bands for THz-based mobile communications; develop new Generalized Hybrid Beamforming for Vehicular Connectivity using THz Massive MIMO and study the impact of 3D channel modeling for ultra-high speed B5G networks that take into account spatial coupling by re-examining legacy engineering tools such as mobility modeling through interdisciplinary design, and involve practical experimentation that will be implemented in system level simulation available in the research group. THz seems to be the key to providing the orders of magnitude of gain required to meet the challenge of this project which will provide the springboard ready to embark on his 5G legacy and beyond.

What are its major challenges?

Although the potential of THz is exciting, the challenges facing a dense urban THz-based cellular network are barely understood, and currently immense. Between rapid urbanization and an accelerating number of cellular-enabled devices per person, the density and physical environment these networks will face is new. Although these trends are becoming more widely recognized, there are few models, measurements, analysis, or evaluation methodologies for a hyper-dense, urban THz cellular system. Considerable basic research is needed to enable the development of these crucial technologies.

Moving toward making THz a reality for broadband communication, this proposal will address a few important issues. These are:

(i) Impact of 3D Channel Modeling for Ultra-High Speed Beyond-5G Networks
(ii) Terahertz Massive MIMO for Beyond-5G Wireless Communication.
(iii) Generalized Hybrid Beamforming for Vehicular Connectivity using THz Massive MIMO

The project was one of the winners of the last CMU Portugal Call for Exploratory projects. In what way was this support important for your research work?

This project worked as a brainchild to arrange a special issue on the prestigious IEEE Communications Magazine ( where Kazi Huq played the role of the Lead Guest Editor. Moreover, the finding of this research work will “strengthen” us for attracting new sources of research targeting beyond 5G networks.

You are currently working with Carnegie Mellon University Engineering and Public Policy Department Head, Doug Sicker. How does this collaboration work and what are its main benefits? 

The Carnegie Mellon Portugal exploratory project is an international partnership with the mission to place Portugal at the forefront of innovation in key focused areas of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). What makes this project so significant is that it gives us the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most brilliant researchers, in this case, Douglas Sicker. By receiving constant feedback from him and in unison with the other researcher, we can gauge the level of our work to the world class level.

By the end of the CMU Portugal grant, what are the expected results?

We are expecting to achieve and publish our results in the high-impact research journals and conference venues. We have already published two journal papers in highly prestigious IEEE and IET journals. It is expected that the results achieved in this project should be able to create synergies with several International institutional and industrial partners and so reinforce the collaborative work which is being pursued, in terms of international collaboration.