back to article BT: 'Quantum radios' could boost 5G network range

Brit telecoms giant BT is undertaking a trial of new antenna technology that may boost the range of 5G networks and reduce mobile network energy consumption. The receiver technology works by exploiting a quantum effect called "electromagnetically induced transparency" to form a highly sensitive electric field detector. …

  1. Mike 137 Silver badge


    Nice technology, but...

    While the antenna would seem from the description to have a lower intrinsic noise level, the big remaining problem when detecting the lower signal levels it can potentially discriminate will be ambient interference that can swamp those signals. As the radio spectrum gets ever more densely populated this is a not insignificant concern.

    1. Mishak Silver badge


      But it's the whole signal path that needs to be considered, and this is reducing noise significantly where the signal is already very low. A significant boost in signal to noise ratio will result, making it easier to detect the signal, even in the presence of other, external noise sources.

    2. El Bard

      Re: Noise

      A few researchers had similar questions and came to the conclusion that yes, Rydberg receivers work for telecom:

      "Prior to the digital test, we have studied the RF-receiving quality versus the physical ambiance and found that a choice of linear gain response to the RF-amplitude can suppress the signal distortion and the modulating signal is able to be decoded as fast as up to 500 kHz in the tunable bandwidth. Our checkout consolidates the physical foundation for a reliable communication and spectrum sensing over the broadband RF-carrier."

      Beside that, also consider the work by NIST cited in the article ( and the one by BT ( the one of Rydberg Technologies, an american company which is already marketing Rydberg cells for other, similar, applications: and the ongoing work at NASA,

    3. Dave Pickles

      Re: Noise

      Not just interference. The ultimate limiting factor at 3GHz is thermal noise from the ground radiating at 300K. A half-decent conventional receiver will have a Noise Figure of a couple of dB, and other things being equal those few dB are the only scope for improvement.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And, to panic the conspiracy theorists, the more worrying follow up...

    "Rydberg atoms found in tin foil"

  3. Peter D

    One day...

    The boffins and boffinettes will learn to speak English and I'll know what they're talking about. Either that or I will have to learn Boffinish. Every day a little bit more hope drains from my world.

    1. badflorist

      Re: One day...

      In English: "5G future is dohickies inside neon lights of 'Cowgirl Riding Bull'*"

      *: during frames when Cowgirl's hat falls off, fallback to 8 seconds of 4G data

    2. John Sager

      Re: One day...

      Are you au fait with the argot in Ballet, or Ice Skating? Same thing here, it's words that have a specific meaning in that context. It makes communication within the discipline easy at the expense of giving outsiders & neophytes an education task. Some people see that as a deliberate rejection of outsiders but that isn't the primary intent in most cases.

  4. Uffish


    Apparently calling an antenna a receiver is part of the new order.

  5. pavel.petrman Silver badge

    One wonders what will they come up with next.

    First, Andrews & Arnold come up with the wet string ADSL, now BT taunts this. What are they going to promise next? Gigabit speeds over thin copper wires in rural areas?!

  6. Christoph

    "particularly for the power-limited uplink from mobile device to base-station."

    Presumably this implies that they only have to get them small enough to fit in the base station for them to be useful - they don't need to fit in the phones, at least at first.

  7. DS999 Silver badge

    A lot of cellular is limited by LOS

    If you don't have line of sight between your device and the tower's antenna (passing through trees is fine, but hills not so much) then increases in SNR via this method won't help you all that much, because you aren't being limited by too much noise but by too little signal.

    In lower frequencies you can get one edge or two edge diffraction paths where there is no line of sight, but those are always kind of sketchy and depend a lot on time of day (i.e. localized heating of the atmosphere) and also position so they don't tend to maintain signal lock well with a moving (i.e. you in a car) target.

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Sounds far too much like ....

    One man’s highly sensitive atomic vaporised electric field detector is A.N.Other's NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTive IT Weapon and Global Operating Device for Live Operational Virtual Environments ..... to be significantly different in such as be Quantum Leaping Fields of Future Progressive Endeavour and Ardour.

    And whenever too true to be conveniently secretly dismissed and denied, Per Ardua ad Mega Astra Meta Data would not be wholly inappropriate for such a Prized SkunkWorXSS Energy EMPowering Deep and Dark Mattered IT Research and AI Development for/from Adastral Park BT Labs in Martlesham ..... but you will have to ask BT about any of that being true and diligently researched and stealthily developed with input from them to output rather than they being just used as counterfeit cover for a wholly new reorganising operation/revolutionary extra territorial intervention.

    And if that all sounds far too much like one’s TitanICQ Holywood Palace Barracks of a Base is another Colossus of a Bletchley Park Station Clone /Drone/Meme for Engagement and Deployment/Field ACTivation with Programmed Mentoring and Clear Transparent Intangible Monitoring, take the Win Win if you Dare Care Share rather than Suffer the Interminable and Indeterminate Hits of Constantly Increasing and Compounding Losses.

  9. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Deep Space Network

    I wonder whether the technology could be used to enhance the sensitivity of radio telescopes and the DSN monitoring of, say Voyager?

    Tracking a signal of less than an attowatt must be quite challenging.

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