3D MIMO small cell networks project

It is predicted that wireless network traffic will increase 1000 times in the next decade. The exponential traffic growth is not uniform across geographical areas and mainly takes place in indoor hot spots. Hence, high capacity indoor venues represent the biggest network capacity increase challenge.



The recently emerged three-dimension Multiple-input Multiple-Output (3D MIMO) technology provides a promising dimension to provide extra capacity gain in hot spots.

In particular, the 3D deployment of small cells (SCs) equipped with 3D MIMO antenna arrays will take advantage of 3D distribution of user equipment (UE) in typical high capacity venues, and represents an excellent technical combination to address the indoor high capacity challenge.

The 3D deployment of SCs with 3D MIMO antenna arrays faces technical challenges ranging from 3D MIMO antenna array design, performance evaluation, the lack of understanding of 3D MIMO SC network performance limits to the optimal 3D SC network deployment.

Project objectives

  • Characterise and model indoor 3D MIMO channels for typical indoor hot-spot environments.
  • Develop a system-level simulation platform with 3D building information for indoor 3D MIMO small-cell networks.
  • Develop a reliable Over-The-Air (OTA) antenna characterisation method for 3D MIMO small cells.
  • Characterise OTA performance in laboratory conditions as compared to real-life 3D MIMO small cell scenarios.
  • Obtain a fundamental understanding of the network performance gains (including overall spectral efficiency and cell-edge UE throughput) achievable by a 3D deployment of indoor small-cell APs equipped with 3D MIMO array antennas.
  • Develop techniques for jointly optimising the indoor 3D deployment of small-cell APs and their 3D MIMO configurations.
  • Provide 3D MIMO small-cell network planning and deployment guidelines for typical 3D indoor scenarios.

The achievement of these objectives will provide crucial inputs for multiple-antenna and 5G/B5G system design, and will increase network capacity in indoor hot spots by 20-30%.


is3DMIMO provides in total 291 person-months of researcher secondments and high-quality interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international research training and knowledge sharing activities for a new generation of scientific researchers.

The scientific researchers will benefit directly from the entrepreneurial and creative environment created by the is3DMIMO consortium, and deliver impact at both European and international levels. It will produce a critical mass of highly-skilled professionals, who are advantaged by their intersectoral and international mobility.

The expected impacts include:

  • Developing EU capacity and skills to advance indoor 3D MIMO channel characterisation and modelling, 3D MIMO array antenna design and testing for small cells, understanding of fundamental performance limits of 3D MIMO small-cell networks, and network planning and optimization of indoor 3D MIMO small cells.
  • Integrating 3D MIMO antennas and small-cell networks more closely with indoor environments to facilitate smart building applications.
  • Creating strong interactions between 3D MIMO array antenna design and indoor small cell network planning and deployment.
  • Increasing EU competitiveness in 5G/B5G systems and technologies.
  • Developing lasting academic and industrial collaborations leading to interdisciplinary and intersectoral R&I programmes.
  • Creating new and exciting career prospects for all the researchers involved.


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