BT Tests Quantum Radio Tech

BT Group began testing a quantum radio receiver technology. It could boost the capabilities of future 5G and IoT networks while also reducing energy consumption.

The operator explained the receivers tap excited atoms to achieve 100-times greater sensitivity than conventional radio equipment due to a quantum effect called electromagnetically induced transparency to form a highly sensitive electric field detector. Because the atomic RF receivers are more sensitive, they could be deployed in passive optical receivers in remote locations to extend mobile infrastructure into areas that were previously hard to serve. The atomic radio receivers could also lower the cost of smart city and agriculture deployments.

BT CTO Howard Watson stated the quantum radio receiver technology could boost the performance of the company’s EE mobile network while also providing a better service to customers, but added it was early days for the technology. The operator claimed its network trial was the first time a digitally encoded message had been received on a 5G 3.6GHz carrier frequency. BT Labs researchers are working to miniaturize the equipment and find the optimum RF modulation and signal processing for potential use in future generations of radio networks. The company stated it secured several patents related to the atomic RF receiver.

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