Millimeter wave technologies show promise for 5G, but propagation, LTE interoperability remain key issues
May 16, 2016
BOSTON -- Wireless and cable operators may see millimeter wave spectrum bands as a key element in the 5G roadmap, but questions about network propagation and interoperability with existing LTE services remain.
While higher band millimeter wave bands such as 28, 39 and 60 GHz bands offer higher bandwidth and throughput, the differences in topology can affect how they perform, particularly in dense urban environments.
In particular, wireless operators will see issues with delivering services if they are in a dense city area where there a number of potential obstructions from buildings and other sources exist.
"Millimeter wave actually does travel far and if you do have an open area and no obstacles, 28 GHz will propagate well," said Belal Hamzeh, director of network technologies with CableLabs, during a FierceWireless event collocated with the INTX trade show. "If you are in a dense area like Boston or downtown New York, you have a lot of obstacles and that's where millimeter does fail."
Hamzeh added that "you will need millimeter wave for 5G capacity, but to be able to provide necessary coverage, you're going to have to have many small cells."
With plans to offer a point to multipoint fixed 5G service sometime next year, C-Spire Wireless will use a mix of frequency bands to address low and high bandwidth needs.