L5-only receiver designed for mobile phones

October 5, 2020  - By
Greg Turetsky, oneNav Inc.

Greg Turetsky, oneNav Inc.

GNSS receivers first reached the commercial domain in the early 1980s. They were bigger than your average carry-on suitcase, weighed more, and consumed so much power that they needed to be plugged into an outlet. But technology advanced quickly, and by the mid-1980s commercial GNSS receivers were appearing in survey and marine markets.

Generation 1. The first generation of truly mobile receivers, in the late 1990s, used only L1 C/A code and were typically found in rugged handhelds for outdoor enthusiasts. The receivers began appearing in mobile phones in the late 1990s.

Gen 2. The second generation added GLONASS. These receivers had to have wider bandwidths on the order of 20-30 MHz to support the GLONASS FDMA signals at a slightly offset frequency from GPS L1.

Gen 3. These receivers added support for Galileo. They started appearing in mainstream cellphones in about 2014. These phones still retained a single frequency front end in the L1 band, but had separate digital processing chains for all three satellite systems.

Gen 4. This evolution added support for BeiDou and a single sideband L5 receiver where BeiDou, Galileo and GPS all have modernized signals. These receivers first appeared in phones in 2019 because of the added size, power and complexity of supporting a dual-band receiver. The front end is a burden on many phone models, especially with the rise of 5G. Plus, the L1 band has reliability issues with jamming and interference. The receivers only support a single sideband at L5 and are not utilizing the full capability of L5.

Read the full white paper from oneNav.

Why Consumer Devices Need L5

Every GNSS user in every segment benefits from using the new, modernized signals in the L5 band. L5 signals are more accurate, reliable and available in sufficient numbers to support all user segments. Here are the major advantages of L5 over L1.

  • Signal structure (narrow correlation peak) accuracy
  • Wide bandwidth (multipath mitigation) accuracy
  • Pilot codes (longer coherent integration increasing SNR)
  • Multiple constellations and signals with common signal structure
  • Stronger signal transmission
  • Cleaner band with less interference
  • Signal availability

The benefits of L5 are clear. That’s why many GNSS suppliers have started building L1/L5 solutions, and they are starting to appear in smartphones. It seems to be a natural progression to add an L5 receiver chain on top of an existing L1 solution and be able to reap the benefits. But bringing along the legacy L1 solution could actually have a negative impact on the overall solution.

The oneNav L5 mobile GNSS system architecture. (Image: oneNav)

The oneNav L5 mobile GNSS system architecture. (Image: oneNav)

L5 Wideband Receiver

We set out to build a fifth-generation GNSS receiver for mobile consumer products. Its single-frequency design only uses the modernized, wideband signals at L5. It has an acquisition engine sophisticated enough to acquire L5 signals directly and a navigation engine that uses artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) techniques to fully exploit all the signals in 50-MHz wideband at L5.

Optimized engine. Building an acquisition engine for the L5 signal is a huge mathematical task. Since the codes are 10 times longer and have a 10 times faster chipping rate, it’s a 100 times more difficult search problem. The oneNav engine solves that problem with a customized array processor that has a GPU-like approach, maintaining TTFF.

Single-frequency architecture. Pure L5 architecture eliminates the need for a second RF chain. The oneNav L5 engine uses common hardware for signals from all GNSS systems.

Increased sensitivity. The L5 signal has a modernized signal structure that allows for increased sensitivity for both acquisition and tracking. With wideband architecture, all parts of the L5 signal can be combined for maximum performance and significantly more signal strength than L1.

Improved time to fix. Dual-band receivers first get a fix on L1 and then begin the acquisition process on L5. By performing the L5 acquisition directly, we save time.

Acquisition reliability. The L1 signal structures do not have the longer primary codes and the secondary codes like modernized signals on L5 that mitigate many of the reliability problems associated with cross correlation, jamming and spoofing.

Improved tracking and measurement. Using the full bandwidth allows a more sophisticated channel estimation than a simple pseudorange measurement. With multiple signals contained within the L5 wideband signal, we gain advantages from channel diversity.

AI/ML navigation engine. A cloud-connected navigation engine uses advanced AI/ML techniques to further improve navigation accuracy. Sophisticated ML techniques to predict if the received signal is line of sight and predict the measurement error caused by multipath. The cloud service allows reflected signals to be used correctly in the navigation solution rather than being excluded due to their multipath content. A sophisticated pattern-matching-based positioning algorithm combines the pseudorange measurements and the environment’s 3D building map model to enhance positioning accuracy in deep urban canyons.

IP Core

We designed the oneNav receiver as a licensable IP core rather than a discrete silicon solution. The complete solution includes all the firmware and an RF front-end reference design from antenna to A/D converter. This allows customers to determine how to best bring the oneNav advantages to their products.

The IP core can be integrated into a larger ASIC such as a modem or an SOC. It could also be implemented as a discrete silicon solution. The RF could be combined into any of these solutions or implemented with other RF components in the system. The measurement and position engine firmware can be run on a dedicated CPU or shared in either the same or different CPUs for flexible system integration optimal for various applications. The IP core is both process independent and scalable. An integrated GNSS core means that GNSS performance can be maintained across multiple platforms and silicon generations, providing consistency of measurement and positioning performance needed to maintain system reliability and fusion.

In my opinion, the Pure L5 wideband receiver can be considered a next generation — or fifth generation — of GNSS for mobile consumer products.

Greg Turetzky is vice president, Product, for oneNav, and a member of GPS World’s Editorial Advisory Board. Read the full white paper from oneNav.