5G Technology: A quick guide to mmWave

5G is not one technology, it’s a collection of networking technologies, and Millimetre Wave (mmWave) provides the high-speed, multi-gigabit, carrier-grade link that can tie parts of it together. This is what truly separates 5G from 4G capabilities and is a key component of future networks.

What is 5G infrastructure?

Crucially, 5G infrastructure is much more than just a service for mobile connectivity. 5G wireless infrastructure is a communications ecosystem that will provide fibre-like speeds. Whether it uses macro cells, small cells, or any specific radio infrastructure, a wireless network can be built with exceptionally high-speed communication links quickly and cost effectively.

Our technology at Blu Wireless has many versatile applications. These span across high-speed broadband at home, fixed wireless access (FWA), public safety, backhaul for high speed transport and smart factories, to name a few.

What is millimetre wave and how does it relate to 5G?

So, where does mmWave technology come in? mmWave is the core radio wave technology that powers these high-speed communication links. It refers to a vast range of frequencies between 24GHz and 100GHz and has shorter wavelengths of 1 to 10 mm.

Licence exempt 5G mmWave uses frequencies in the 60GHz unlicensed band. This means that providers who utilise this band don’t need a licence and the spectrum can be shared by different operators.

The mmWave band spectrum is available for 5G to use, and the unlicensed 60GHz spectrum alone is much wider than all of what’s available for mobile communication, including WiFi. It offers an impressive 14GHz of spectrum compared to the narrow spectrum that connect our phones, which is in turn orders of magnitude larger than the current technology on the market.

The short wavelength frequencies can offer high-speed wireless connections because they can carry more data and the data being transferred has less distance to travel, drastically improving latency.

Short wavelength mmWave vs long-range radio

Long-range radio technology is a communications infrastructure that emits long wavelength radio wave frequencies. This could be a large cell tower, for example, sending out signals for mobile phones. In contrast, mmWave is emitted using smaller stations over a smaller area.

Longer range radio technology works by emitting bandwidth over roughly five miles using one base station. However, using one base station source for bandwidth in a large area has its own limitations. If there is another long-range station within five miles, this starts to cause problems. They can interfere with one another causing bandwidth constraints.

In contrast, with a short-range mmWave transmission, base stations are placed roughly every 400 metres. Each of these stations provide the same high bandwidth of gigabits per second. This means this level of performance is repeated within an area, creating a high density of 5G quality performance. It also means several people in an area can connect to the same spectrum using different stations creating a robust communications system.

What is licence exempt, 5G mmWave technology used for?

This unprecedented gigabit performance means mmWave is a key technology for making our society’s ambitious ideas for connectivity, Smart Cities, and all-pervasive WIFI possible.

For example, it can provide internet connection to a train-full of passengers or powering FWA for an entire enterprise.

This technology will also enable emerging applications that may change how we live and work in a city. Connected and autonomous vehicles are a good example; they require access to low-latency, reliable and high-quality connections across a large area in order to function effectively. If their connections only had the range of your home WIFI or the intermittency of 4G, they would become unsafe and almost useless.

This is part of the reason these kinds of Smart City applications are not yet prevalent in society yet, because the technology needed to power the ideas isn’t yet widely available. 5G mmWave on the other hand has the capacity to meet these requirements.

Blu Wireless’s mmWave technology delivers high-bandwidth, multi-gigabit capabilities for 5G with ease, meaning the applications for this technology can be made a reality, today. For example, our high-speed, multi-gigabit 5G technology is paving the way for communications in the high speed transport and healthcare sectors, already being seen in action, and there are plans for much more.