A Sub-Terahertz Sliding Correlator Channel Sounder with Absolute Timing using Precision Time Protocol over Wi-Fi

2 Sep 2023  ·  Dipankar Shakya, Hitesh Poddar, Theodore S. Rappaport ·

Radio channels at mmWave and sub-THz frequencies for 5G and 6G communications offer large channel bandwidths (hundreds of MHz to several GHz) to achieve multi-Gbps data rates. Accurate modeling of the radio channel for these wide bandwidths requires capturing the absolute timing of multipath component (MPC) propagation delays with sub-nanosecond accuracy. Achieving such timing accuracy is challenging due to clock drift in untethered transmitter (TX) and receiver (RX) clocks used in time-domain channel sounders, yet will become vital in many future 6G applications. This paper proposes a novel solution utilizing precision time protocol (PTP) and periodic drift correction to achieve absolute timing for MPCs in power delay profiles (PDPs) --captured as discrete samples using sliding correlation channel sounders. Two RaspberryPi computers are programmed to implement PTP over a dedicated Wi-Fi link and synchronize the TX and RX Rubidium clocks continuously every second. This synchronization minimizes clock drift, reducing PDP sample drift to 150 samples/hour, compared to several thousand samples/hour without synchronization. Additionally, a periodic drift correction algorithm is applied to eliminate PDP sample drift and achieve sub-nanosecond timing accuracy for MPC delays. The achieved synchronicity eliminates the need for tedious and sometimes inaccurate ray tracing to synthesize omnidirectional PDPs from directional measurements. The presented solution shows promise in myriad applications, including precise position location and distributed systems that require sub-nanosecond timing accuracy and synchronization among components.

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