Delivering long distance link aggregation with millimetre wave technology

Link aggregation over a 51km millimetre wave link in Russia is a great example of how this technology is advancing. The demonstration on the outskirts of Moscow provides high-speed broadband Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) for a data network without the added time and associated cost of having to dig up the ground and install optical fibres.

It also puts paid to the criticism that millimetre wave links, operating at 60 GHz where oxygen absorption adds approximately 15 dB/km of link loss, are limited in range, as the line-of-sight link is comparable to other, lower frequency FWA links. Increased range, typically by over x2 when operating within the FCC/CEPT license exempt 57-71 GHz power limit of +40 dBmi, is also enabled by operating above 64 GHz where oxygen absorption does not inhibit performance.

However, this Moscow demonstration also shows some of the challenges of using millimetre wave technology nonetheless. The transceivers are at the significant height of 100m, up on telecom towers, and the 70cm diameter phased array antennas need to be aligned to within 0.5 degrees. This took engineers from the equipment supplier and the operator a considerable time to achieve.

As a result, the technology used in this trial may lend itself very well to other applications. These FWA systems may not be practical for high-speed portable networks or perimeter security and smart city applications. Instead, programmable baseband technology and sophisticated software algorithms optimised to the phased array antennas can provide much more flexibility and usability. Having multipoint nodes means that complex configurations can be applied – quickly and easily.

Link aggregation for perimeter security

At Blu Wireless we have demonstrated how millimetre wave links can be used for high-speed broadband links to moving vehicles and the data transfer of high quality video for perimeter security. This technology has matured to the point where it is being deployed on the UK Rail network to enable gigabit communications for 5G passenger connectivity. Systems can be set up quickly and easily to provide links with gigabit speeds. While these are often at ground level, they may not reach 51km as trees and hills can get in the way. However, using mesh networking combined with multi-link aggregation, Blu Wireless’s wireless nodes can provide a flexible, robust link aggregation across longer distances to carry 4K and even 8K resolution high definition video.

All this can be achieved with today’s technology and the expertise of Blu Wireless’s engineers and partners. An easy setup process allows the wireless network to be established with minimal fuss. The idea of a ‘mobile node’ therefore offers possibilities for providing a mobile video source.
With different antennas, it can also be used for backhaul networks throughout a smart city, allowing new entrants into 5G to leapfrog established network providers with a fast network rollout. This requires expertise to put the systems together to simplify the roll out in the field.

The Blu Wireless team have worked with a wide range of innovative technology companies, from antennas and radio front ends to the backend and network connectivity. This dramatically simplifies the ability of network operators to roll out the technology for link aggregation and provide these millimetre wave long links quickly and effectively.