Microsoft to Research Sub-Terahertz Communications in the US

January 3, 2024

Written by Caio Castro
CATEGORY: Exclusives

Microsoft has filed a Spectrum Horizons license request to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to initiate research about sub-Terahertz communication links in the United States.

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.”

The experiments will happen in Redmont, the state of Washington, on the West Coast, and will feature equipment provided by Keysight.

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.”

The FCC is currently analysing the request.

Featured image by Microsoft

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