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Millimeter Wave Spectrum

(Millimeter Wave Spectrum - National Instruments)

Extremely High Frequency Means Extremely Fast 5G Speeds


- Overview

Millimeter waves are the next frequency band for microwaves. As the name suggests, their wavelengths are measured in millimeters. In particular they are between 10 and 1 mm, which corresponds to frequencies in the 30 GHz to 300 GHz band. 

In some cases mmWave bands are considered to start at 26 GHz rather than 30 GHz because 5G mmWave bands are at 26 and 28 GHz. These 5G mmWave bands provide short-range, ultra-high-bandwidth communications for mobile communications.

Typical applications of mmWave include radar, mmWave imaging, medical scanning, investigation of short-range links for wireless communications.


- What is 5G mmWave?

5G mmWave is a revolutionary cellular technology that typically originates in the frequency band range above 24GHz to 40GHz – using massive MIMO to expand capacity and extend coverage. Here, a question arises, what are the benefits of 5G millimeter wave technology/what are the salient features of 5G millimeter wave? 5G networks use mmWave or mmWave technology to provide enough bandwidth for the growth of connected devices (5g mmWave frequency band), so 5G mmWave will open the door for a variety of applications such as railway passenger data experience, self-driving cars, remote Medical care, traffic management, indoor shopping malls, educational centers, stadiums, convention centers, and other data-intensive uses.

Some benefits are as follows:

  • Millimeter wave 5G can deliver data transfer speeds from 200 Mbps to over 1 Gbps.
  • 5G mmWave has a network latency of less than 10 milliseconds, but in the case of LTE, it's 20 to 30 milliseconds. The difference between mmWave 5G and 600MHz 5G is huge and opens up many other avenues for high bandwidth utilization.
  • 5G mmWave has a bandwidth of about 1 Gbps, which means higher bandwidth supports faster and more efficient data transmission.
  • The network performance of mmWave 5G (mmWave 5G mobile) opens up new opportunities for wireless broadband services for business and residential applications as an alternative to fiber-based wired communications and (FWA) fixed wireless access.
  • mmWave 5G handsets or 5G CPE can act as FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) to provide Wi-Fi services for commercial and residential applications, which is an alternative to fiber-based wired communications.


- Future Millimeter Wave Networks

Millimeter or extremely high frequency (EHF) waves, occupy the relatively unused portion of the electromagnetic spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz (part of the EHF band), which offers greater throughput and thus higher overall capacity than the increasingly crowded WiFi bands under 6 GHz. High frequency means narrow wavelengths, and for mm waves that sits in the range of 1 millimeter to 10 millimeters. Wavelengths in and around this band are therefore called millimeter waves (mmW). mmWaves are a popular choice for 5G but also has application in areas like radio astronomy, telecommunications, and radar guns. It's strength can be reduced due to vulnerabilities against gases, rain and humidity absorption. And to make matters even less appealing, due to those factors millimeter wavelengths only reach out to a few kilometers. 

One of the unique challenges of deploying millimeter wave spectrum is extending the distance the signal can travel. That’s especially true in dense urban environments, where buildings and trees can disrupt signals. The millimeter wave signal is much more resilient than anyone expected. Now, thanks to new technologies, it is on the brink of being an integral part of the next-generation network.


- 5G and Millimeter-wave Technology Evolution

Historically, millimeter-wave technology has been expensive and difficult to deploy, which has limited it to niche applications like radio astronomy, microwave remote sensing and terrestrial fixed communications. More recently, however, interest has increased significantly as those two obstacles have been largely overcome. Millimeter wave has evolved into a cost-effective option for meeting the ongoing network capacity challenge faced by enterprises. We expect prices to continue to decline and price/performance to continue to improve, making millimeter-wave solutions a first option for organizations everywhere. A wide range of outdoor and indoor applications are poised to benefit from this set of technologies.

Millimeter wave technology is tailor-made for the bandwidth-hungry applications of tomorrow. Think of millimeter wave spectrum as a superhighway. Now picture fleets of tractor trailers moving gigantic shipments of data in all directions on that roadway, at unrestricted speeds. But instead of these individual small lanes, imagine there are tens of thousands of gigantic lanes put together, that’s how wireless telephone companies, like AT&T, Version, etc., are delivering 5G. 


- The Frequency Bands of 4G LTE and 5G

The frequency bands of current conventional systems are below 6 GHz. However, since these frequency bands are used extensively, they will not be sufficient for 5G and beyond communication. Therefore, it is required to ensure spectrum efficiency. 5G will use spectrum in the existing LTE frequency range (600 MHz to 6 GHz) and also in millimeter wave bands (24–86 GHz).

4G LTE technology currently uses lower frequency spectrum, generally below 1 gigahertz (GHz), to deliver data at great speed. However, as society becomes increasingly digital-reliant, the demands created by tomorrow’s even more data-intensive applications - whether virtual reality or real-time design programs - will require a fundamental reimagining of how data flows. To that end, 5G network will be based on higher frequencies - more specifically the 28 and 39 GHz frequencies, known commonly as millimeter wave spectrum. These frequencies can carry massive amounts of data at very high speeds and with very little latency, or lag. That makes them ideal for accommodating a massive increase in data demands from mobile-first users, connected homes, AR/VR devices, cloud gaming systems, self-driving vehicles, IoT sensors and other cloud-connected devices. 



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