5G is the next generation of mobile internet connectivity that will power businesses, homes, and cities. It brings together existing services, adding new technologies that focus on the applications rather than the equipment that links them together. It also provides the ability to combine communication links and technologies in new ways and leverage new bands of the spectrum, such as the powerful mmWave bands, which can carry huge quantities of information.
What is 5G mmWave?
As mentioned, 5G opens up wider bandwidths and leverages new bands of spectrum, that were not being used to their full potential before – such as mmWave. Millimetre waves are very short wavelengths, ranging between 10mm and 1mm, created by very high frequency radios. The wavelengths are small but powerful and can carry huge quantities of information. With expert engineering, they can provide reliable connectivity with fibre-equivalent data speeds of up to 40Gbps.
This enables significantly faster and more reliable communication networks, which in turn enable a whole host of existing and new use cases that were previously limited by speed, delay, reliability, and cost. This includes applications for high-speed transport, remote healthcare, manufacturing, defence and entertainment.
What is the unlicensed mmWave band?
The unlicensed 57–71 GHz frequency band is available in North America and 59-63 GHz is available globally, with the upper bands above 64 GHz less susceptible to oxygen absorption. Blu Wireless’s technology operates across the full license-exempt band 57-71 GHz, including the 64 to 71GHz which crucially is outside the oxygen absorption at 60 GHz, and is therefore well suited for long-range (1 km or more) wireless links. Our 5G mmWave products are implemented within a small (300mm & 4kg), low power (50W) form factor unit, with integrated low-profile phased array antenna. These can easily be mounted on already existing infrastructure or vehicles and support Point-to-Point, Point-to-Multi-Point, and mesh network architectures to provide maximum flexibility for a broad variety of network deployments and requirements.
Range and data rate at mmWave frequencies are functions of propagation conditions, antenna, radio and baseband performance. Range can be further extended by operation above 65 GHz as the additional attenuation due to oxygen absorption falls from 15 dB/km to less than 1 dB/km. Our equipment has solved the challenge of range associated with mmWave and can deliver carrier-grade performance at ranges up to 4 km.
Furthermore, our mmWave equipment delivers robust quality of service in the presence of uncontrolled interference (both for co-channel and adjacent channel) in unlicensed conditions where multiple un-coordinated networks may be operating. Line of Sight operation for DN-DN (distribution node – distribution node) and DN-CN (distribution node -client node) connections is implemented through dynamic mesh beamforming routing across a DN network.
The factors that set 5G mmWave apart from 4G and fibre
This technology is self-aligning and self-optimising. Gone are the days of time-consuming installations and costly maintenance, as mmWave is seamless, robust, and wireless, meaning expensive digging costs can be avoided, and it can be affordably deployed on already existing lampposts.
Moreover, the new protocols for the mmWave spectrum have more efficient ways of managing all the users in the bands while improving the latency. This key advantage can also improve the overall reliability of wireless connections. Setting up a link quickly, blasting data at a high rate and then shutting down is the most power-efficient way of transmitting data.
Another benefit of mmWave is the openness of the unlicensed band, which has the potential for start-ups and new entrants to harness and improve the technology. Using standard hardware, whether as a design block, a chip, a module or a complete system, allows them to build new types of equipment that operate at speeds that were unimaginable a decade ago. A new generation of start-ups is raising millions of dollars to develop systems that take advantage of mmWave technologies and 5G speeds, and the unlicensed band is a key element in many of their business plans.
At the same time, it’s important to stress that mmWave can very much support carrier grade connections. Our equipment has been designed to provide low-cost carrier-grade backhaul to 4G or 5G small cells. As a result, Internet Service Providers are able to offer ‘neutral hosting’ to mobile operators for either addressing ‘not spots’ or facilitating the deployment of ultra-dense small cells or Wi-Fi hotspots, ensuring better coverage for everyone.
Just as 3G connections have remained in the 4G age, 4G will remain as 5G connections become more mainstream. mmWave technology can even be leveraged to improve 4G connections and broadband connections.
The future of 5G mmWave
In the future, there will be a range of services and applications that will benefit from, and come to rely on, 5G mmWave technology. We will massive data upload for data intense applications, like public transport or aircraft, for instance. We will also see networks with a virtual core, as well as virtualised RAN moving to Open RAN. Advancements in these areas will allow the market to open up to a broader number of vendors, offering customers more choice and flexibility.
To learn more about our 5G mmWave technology and how it can enable your communication networks, get in touch with us today.