The millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum is the band of spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz wedged between microwave and infrared waves.
This is the spectrum most commonly associated with 5G wireless technology because it’s the mmWave that provides the super-fast download speeds associated with the 5G architecture.
The problem (as far as 5G is concerned) is that the mmWave, while fast, is also flawed. Millimeter waves being higher on the spectrum scale, their coverage footprint is very small. The typical cell site radius is 10s of meters versus 100s to 1000s of meters for traditional bands.
Additionally, millimeter waves don’t penetrate through obstructions such as walls or even vegetation. This means it would be impossible to provide indoor coverage with outdoor sites. And also that Line of Sight (LoS) between the device and cell-site becomes important.
Millimeter waves behave like light rays, blocked by obstacles but reflected off surfaces, so the traditional approach of overlaying new spectrum on the existing site grid, which operators used during 3G to 4G transition won’t work for mmWave based 5G.
A dedicated network design is a must. The mmWave network has to be designed for capacity, while relying on Sub 6 GHz band or Gigabit 4G/LTE network for seamless coverage.
The benefit of smaller coverage of mmWave cells affords the option of deploying them much more densely, offering extremely high capacity.
Despite issues, the major wireless service providers remain committed to the millimeter-band in bringing 5G technology to the public. The major carriers are compensating by focusing on the 5G antenna system such as the implementation of small cells.
Small cells are low-power base stations that cover small geographic areas. With small cells, carriers using mmWave for 5G can improve overall coverage area. Combined with beamforming, small cells can deliver very extremely fast coverage with low latency.
5G networks are also being built out with the use of Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) antennas that have multiple elements or connections to send and receive more data simultaneously. The benefit to users is that more people can simultaneously connect to the network and maintain high throughput.
Want to know more about 5G and mmWaves? Tonex offers 5G and mmWave Antenna Engineering Training, a 3-day course that covers the theory and practice of antenna engineering, communications, radar, commercial and military applications.
Additionally, Tonex offers 20 more cutting edge 5G Wireless courses with titles like:
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