You can’t see it, but it’s there. And if it’s not handled properly, it can be dangerous. As more wireless infrastructure is developed to densify networks and support new technologies, EMF radiation is all around us, and according to the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), human exposure needs to be carefully evaluated. The onset of 5G technology and millimeter wave (mmWave) antennas have amplified the attention around this critical matter.
Alphawave, a specialized technology investment group, previously known as EM Software and Systems (EMSS), has been active in the field of communication network safety services since 2005. The company offers a cloud-based, user-friendly software suite, IXUS, that enables users to model, simulate and report on the environmental impact of EMF radiation. Its versatile nature allows it to accommodate multiple international safety standards across all types of wireless infrastructure, and to continually evolve, releasing two major updates per year.
IXUS helps network operators and subcontractors maintain EMF compliance in accordance with both occupational and general public MPE limits. “There are so many sites being deployed, technicians are struggling to get to all of them for measurements in a quick and efficient manner. With IXUS, you can incorporate simulation into your workflow. If you can model them accurately, you can save quite a bit of time in the setup of the site and during the planning phase,” explains Danie Ludick, Technical Team Leader.
The capabilities of IXUS include modeling and calculating problem zones in 3D, automatically generating necessary documentation and managing and monitoring entire networks, thereby reducing compliance time and cost. “We make it easier for mobile network operators to do the site acquisition and to install antennas in places where they are going to be safe and compliant,” says Nel, Product Manager. Nel has years of electromagnetics experience and has been with IXUS since 2016.
IXUS’ attention to antenna detail differentiates it from other software platforms, boasting a directory of 4,000 models and adding one to two per day. “We’ve recently added a substantial number of millimeter wave, or 5G antennas,” says Ludick. These are available via the IXUS portal, which provides a home base for registered users to perform license management tasks, access a helpdesk, download software updates and request the creation of new antenna models.
One of the biggest misunderstandings about 5G simulations is beamforming, says Nel. Beamforming is a signal processing technique in which an array of antennas can be steered to transmit radio signals in a specific direction. This is one of the reasons why compliance boundaries for 5G antennas are larger. The beam can end up in more than one area. IXUS accounts for this by leveraging a “traffic envelope that encapsulates any possible position of the high gain, narrow beam generated to serve users,” according to Nel, in essence, showing clients all potentially hazardous scenarios.
Working closely with industry government bodies, associations and academia, IXUS has played “a fundamental role in the early stages of 5G regulations.” In 2015, after completing a PhD in computational electromagnetics, Ludick joined Stellenbosch University as a lecturer at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He maintains a close relationship with academia to guide various research projects in electromagnetics and antenna development. IXUS is also a member of many governing bodies to stay abreast of technological and policy developments. “Whenever something changes, we’ll be the first to hear about it,” says Nel.
Key components of the software suite include the IXUS Manager, a server-side web app that manages workflow, document control and automated reports. The IXUS Modeller develops and analyzes EMF assessment models, offering a turnkey 3D CAD modelling environment. Users can generate realistic models for their sites, macro and small cell alike, and render RF radiation using 3D electromagnetic “lobes,” environmental slices and field points. Results are communicated back to the IXUS Manager for reporting and site management. An additional Measurement Module is also available for uploading EMF field data from the surveyor’s measurement device to their IXUS Manager, which is then automatically incorporated in the site’s EMF compliance report.
The IXUS team is based near Cape Town, South Africa, has an international presence and started U.S. based collaborations in 2019. In one of the projects, the compliance of various mmWave antennas was evaluated for a sport stadium that will host 5G technology — one of the first in the country. The RF compliance safety zones were evaluated with IXUS. Key to successfully completing this study was the availability of the mmWave antennas modelled by IXUS antenna engineers. The antennas were all synthesized according to the manufacturer specifications. An example of the radiation from the antennas is shown below. Using a spatial averaging scheme, it was determined that up to a height of 6 ft, the general public is exposed to less than what the FCC’s maximum permissible exposure (MPE) limit specifies.
“Our main goal is to ensure the U.S. market is comfortable in using our tool,” says Nel. The team has customized the product specifically for this purpose. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the team has made progress towards establishing a sales network in the States. Looking ahead, “we have implemented new ways of calculations that are less conservative, like spatial averaging based on IEEE recommendations,” says Nel.
Wireless can be complicated but managing EMF compliance doesn’t have to be. Featuring an intuitive set of modules, the IXUS team also provides an initial demo, a month-long trial and in-depth training and support post-purchase. The team is available 24/7 and according to Ludick, “Customer feedback is paramount to our development.” For more information or to schedule a demo, visit https://ixusapp.com or email email@example.com. Join IXUS on March 19 for a live webinar as they showcase their latest 2021.1 features. Register here.
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