The DRAGON project, through the exploitation of the radio spectrum in D-band (130-174.8 GHz)1, will overcome the constraints of current E-band wireless backhaul solutions to achieve a small-form factor and high-capacity radio solution, suitable for massive deployment, that will enable bringing the speed of optical systems to backhaul systems in a cost effective way.

The DRAGON consortium has a well-balanced and complementary know-how in the relevant areas for designing and demonstrating the feasibility of a small cell cellular network architecture based on meshed Dband backhaul links. DRAGON will therefore secure Europe’s industrial leadership and pave the way towards innovative 5G telecommunications networks.

The DRAGON’s objective

Picture of wireless front/backhaul network with Point to Point and Point to Multi Point configurationsPicture of wireless front/backhaul network with Point to Point and Point to Multi Point configurations

The 5G represents the new generation of the mobile network infrastructure conceived to cope with a very large field of applications. In the next three to four years, communications service providers (CSPs) will run backhaul transformation projects to meet the needs of 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) service provisioning.
With mobile data traffic continuing to grow rapidly (40-fold between 2014 and 2020) and the imminent connection of 50 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices by 2025, CSPs are being driven to rethink their existing transport network architecture.
All the telecom operators in Europe have the main objective to get hold the 5G core technologies and concretize the 5G ecosystem infrastructure able to provide to their customers at the same time wireless bit-rate higher than 20Gbps, latency less than 1ms and connectivity density higher than 1 million per km2. Transport is the part of the network that comprises the intermediate links between the Core Network or backbone and the small sub-networks at the “edge” of the entire hierarchical network (see the figure). Backhaul plays currently a vital role in mobile networks by acting as the link between RAN and the Core, as, a little bit later, will play the front hauling by acting as the link between RAN and a centralized radio protocol remote processing.

DRAGON will reap the fruits of earlier R&D investments in mmW backhaul enabling technologies to provide a high capacity D-band (130-174.8 GHz) wireless back/front haul solution able to address the needs of 5G transport network.
The figure shows the role of this innovative technology in the transport network.
The proposed project, opening to the introduction in 5G networks of frequencies beyond 100GHz towards 100Gbs capacity, supports the deployment of different applications and use cases for high capacity x-haul systems having hop distances of up to 1km.

DRAGON offers prospects for new semiconductor, antenna and packaging technologies and the consequent hardware devices to enter the market and to create the economic opportunities, for the involved consortium partners, to become the most innovative market players.
European advanced SiGe-BiCMOS process technology, enabling highly integrated mixed analog-digital unctionalities, for active antenna array technologies, supplies the project demo trial on-field with all the hardware components, derived from the previous RIA project DREAM, but properly scaled and optimized in terms of performances, power consumption, compactness, quality and production costs.