We recently attended the 2019 International Microwave Symposium conference and exhibition in Boston. There was a lot of exciting new technology on display, in particular related to 5G. Millimeter-wave beamformers and arrays, high performance filters, multi-level test equipment and high functioning RF front-ends were some of the more impressive technologies being exhibited.
A few years ago, we wrote an article for the IEEE Microwave Magazine on how RF over fiber will play a key role in 5G and 5G+. The technologies on display at IMS2019 were indicative of how microwave photonics, in particular RF over Fiber, will feature in future implementations of 5G and 5G+. The wide spectral content of the now present and future networks requires technology that is not only inherently wideband in nature, but also low loss (or efficient) as a distribution medium. Whether it be transporting 5G communication signals in small cells, providing efficient, scalable x-haul architectures, or distributing large amounts of signals on high altitude platforms, linear RF over fiber technology will play a vital role.