Qualcomm calls for push towards 5G at millimetre wavelengths

Qualcomm calls for push towards 5G at millimetre wavelengths

Cristiano Amon Qualcomm.jpg

Chipmaker Qualcomm today put its weight behind a move to support extremely high frequency 5G services, which it said can add massive capacity to cellular networks.

The company brought in dozens of operators in its support, companies from Airtel and AT&T to US Cellular and Vodafone, plus equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE. They all are saying millimetre wave (mmWave) services will permit “significant increases in user data demand”, particularly for fixed wireless access (FWA).

Cristiano Amon (pictured), president and CEO-elect of Qualcomm, said: “The global deployment of 5G mmWave is now inevitable. It is essential to achieve the full potential of 5G and those embracing 5G mmWave will find themselves with a competitive advantage.”

He added: “Support from companies across the ecosystem further demonstrates the global scale and maturity of 5G mmWave.”

Millimetre wave radio uses spectrum in the 30-300GHz range, with wavelengths from 1mm to 10mm, though the term is also used for frequencies from 24GHz and above — a wavelength of 12.5mm and below.

They have huge data capacity, but their disadvantage is that their range is short, especially in humid or damp conditions, perhaps as little as a few metres in some circumstances.

The benefit of that to vendors such as Nokia and chipmakers such as Qualcomm is that it will push up the demand for small cells, spaced only tens or hundreds of metres apart, and connected by fibre.

There are already a few instances where millimetre wave networks have been rolled out.

AT&T has called the service “5G+” and has installed it in parts of 38 cities and in more than 20 venues across the US, said Jeff Howard, the company’s VP for its mobile device portfolio. “By the end of 2021, AT&T expects 5G+ will be available in parts of more than 40 cities and to more than 40 venues across the country.”

In Italy, Fastweb, owned by Swisscom, plans to cover “approximately 12 million households in the next three years,” said CTO Marco Arioli. “We started deploying our network a few months ago and our plan is to cover 5G mmWave in particular is proving to be disruptive in its capability to provide a valid alternative to FTTH and other UBB wireline technologies.”

Its rival, TIM, has already built a 26GHz private network for a factory owned by Exor International in north-eastern Italy.

Australian wholesale provider NBNCo has managed to run millimetre wave services over a link of 7.3km, according to CTO Ray Owen. “This growing momentum will help network operators define the most cost-effective, and spectrum-efficient ways to integrate 5G into their evolving network architectures.”

Tareq Amin, CTO of Japanese cloud 5G operator Rakuten Mobile, said: “Millimetre is an important part of our spectrum portfolio and we are seeing very positive performance on our deployment with low latency and high speeds of 1.77Gbps.”

Qualcomm said that “5G millimetre wave uses abundant spectrum resources in frequencies above 24GHz” and said it would “unleash the full potential of 5G”. It listed applications such as ultra high-definition video security, “and precise remote guidance and control in various scenarios like telemedicine, smart factories, and smart ports”.





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