Green Light for Microsoft to Research Communications Above 200 GHz

February 9, 2024

Written by Caio Castro

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved a Microsoft request to research communications in four different ranges in the sub-Terahertz band in the United States.

Microsoft’s experiments will take place at the company’s facilities in Redmond, state of Washington, using equipment provided by Keysight. The studies will focus on the following ranges:

  • 246-249.5 GHz 
  • 252-257 GHz 
  • 258.5-260.5 GHz 
  • 275.4-275.5 GHz

According to the big tech filing, “Microsoft proposes to explore the use of wireless communications at these frequencies to supplement the wired communication links in data centres.”

Microsoft Sees Upsides

The company explained that, apart from high throughput communication, sub-Terahertz links have features that make them attractive for use in data centres:

  • Highly directional beams achieved by large element antenna arrays allow the coexistence of multiple communication links through spatial multiplexing.
  • The short communication range of sub-Terahertz beams due to high atmospheric attenuation enhances spatial reuse. 
  • The directional antenna arrays enable the setting up and tearing down of RF links on demand. 
  • A large indoor operating environment and the ability to enhance the building walls to minimise RF propagation enables the establishment of wide-bandwidth high data rate links with minimum interference to potential outdoor deployments, promoting efficient spectrum sharing and coexistence.

“While there are existing sub-Terahertz testbeds deployed at academic and cooperate research labs, the proposed testbed will uniquely focus on evaluating the use of multi-hop RF links to mitigate the obstacles present in data centres and will focus on topologies suitable for typical structure and layout of large-scale data centres,” the big tech argued.

“We anticipate that the sub-Terahertz RF will not suffer from alignment issues due to the relatively large and adjustable beam width,” Microsoft said. “The ability to electronically steer the RF beam rapidly will also enable us to develop appropriate control loops to further mitigate challenges caused by equipment vibrations. Consequently, the entire experimental research program will be conducted indoors.”

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