The crucial role of mmWave for 5G FWA
Last month, I joined the Wells Fargo Securities Research team in New York to speak at their 2018 Telecom Forum. Entitled ‘Fast & Furious to 5G’, this year’s event sought to cut through the noise around 5G.
We were delighted to accept the invitation to share the knowledge we have gained deploying mmWave, pre-5G- fixed access networks over the last 10 years. We are proud of our field-work in this area and privileged to be amongst speakers such as AT&T’s CEO as well as the CTOs of Verizon and Sprint.
Unlike previous mobile standards, 5G will be a gamechanger for non-mobile use cases such as fixed wireless access services. Jennifer Fritzsche, Managing Director of the Equity Research group at Wells Fargo Securities asked us how our customers were seeing the 5G opportunity. We explained how our customers are always on the look-out for higher capacities, better QoS, shorter time to market and lower TCO. 5G is seen as one way to stay competitive in their markets and to continue delighting their customers.
However, at CBNL we see the shift to using 5G standards for fixed access as an evolution of what we are already doing. We have long seen the huge advantages offered by mmWave spectrum in providing the power needed for 5G capacities. And we started out in life developing the technologies to build out wireless networks in these bands.
Very high-speed, high-throughput wireless networks built around a point-to-multipoint topology offering TCO savings of up to 50% and with the ability to provide individual traffic streams with dedicated QoS is what we do at CBNL.
mmWave under the spotlight
The market interest in 5G has put mmWave under the spotlight. For the first time the industry is putting significant focus on this high frequency spectrum and specifically how to build point-to-multipoint topologies at such high frequencies. But for us it’s an area in which we’ve been working for over 10 years.
As the industry looks at mmWave bands to support the shift to 5G and in particular to support FWA, and other non-mobile applications, we are able to bring the direct experience we have of deploying point-to-multipoint networks in these bands to bear.
We don’t say this lightly. To date CBNL has shipped over 150,000 units purpose-built for the job of creating carrier grade networks in mmWave. These are in active use with 7 of the world’s top 10 operator groups.
Jennifer also asked us whether we were seeing any urgency by operators wanting to get pre-5G FWA services to market. The answer is an emphatic yes: fast-moving operators are already building first-mover advantage. And needless to say, every operator is studying how 5G will change the economics of a variety of use cases. We are using our field-proven modeling tools to show what real-world designs might look like.
Given we already support spectrum bands from 10GHz right through to 40GHz we bring a lot of flexibility that can allow operators to build momentum. These bands include former LMDS A1, A2 and B bands as well as 39GHz. We have additional developments ongoing in other bands as part of our bespoke, customer-specific engineering service.
The 5G business case
It’s not just mobile operators with whom we’re talking. Fixed players as well as non-telcos such as utilities and government organizations such as smart city projects are also interested and many need support to navigate the minefield of spectrum and use case whilst marrying both with an appropriate technology. It comes down to the business case and the ability to monetise spectrum quickly in the form of services that their customers want.
Our live deployments in the field tell us that mmWave spectrum works really well for building carrier-grade networks. We’ve deployed many dense networks of 5000 sites or more in climates and environments all over the world and our proven field work shows us that hundreds of Mbps are achievable up to ranges of 5 miles: much greater range than some people envisage when they see ‘mmWave’.
Our solutions today support up to 1.3Gbps with a range of up to 5 miles. Each 90˚ sector supports up to 63 sites from a single hub with high speed connectivity. All from a 4kg, 6 litre form factor.
All said and done, Wells Fargo Securities’ 2018 Telecom Forum was a unique opportunity to meet the voices shaping the future of connectivity across the globe. I was delighted to discuss the role that mmWave plays in building 5G networks – and I look forward to returning to the summit in the future.