ETSI report hints at the potential of Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces


From improved coverage to beam forming and energy savings, the emergent technology is one that could come to define the future of wireless network deployment

As we look towards the future and the 6G era, one of the most anticipated emerging technologies is surely Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces (RIS).

A RIS is a surface comprising arrangement of scattering elements called unit-cells, which can be controlled to change its electromagnetic behaviour. This allows the RIS to dynamically alter the way in which it reacts to wireless signals, through increased or decreased reflection, refraction, focusing, collimation, modulation, and absorption.

When strategically deployed, the adaptability of RIS will not only allow operators to increase their coverage, but also provide additional spectral efficiency, security, energy savings, and more.

RIS could also allow for a cost-effective network deployment in areas that were previously unfeasible using traditional solutions, such particularly indoors.

Now, European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has released a new report on the topic – ETSI GR RIS-001 – seeking to identify and define RIS use cases and produce related Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

The report includes 11 defined use cases for the new technology, including deployment scenarios and potential requirements for the new technology.

“In the future 5G-Advanced and 6G wireless networks, many new applications, such as in eHealth, strongly impose requirements on both the communication and sensing performance,” explained Arman Shojaeifard, Chair of the ETSI RIS group. “As an example, a RIS can reconfigure the radio environment to sense human posture and detect someone falling, a useful application for elderly care.”

Numerous operators are already exploring the potential of this latent technology. In fact, last year Orange became the first operator in Europe to demonstrate RIS in action at their Orange Research and Innovation Exhibition in Paris, France.

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