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5G mmWave Technology: What you need to know?

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5g mmwave

5G networks are expanding even further around the world. This next-generation wireless communication is partially enhanced by a new technology called mmWave. US airlines are particularly interested in this technology and it is also an important part of their rollout in China and Japan. Eventually, mmWave technology has started to spread around the world.

Evolution of 5G mmWave coverage

The evolution of 5G has progressed smoothly since 3GPP standardized the first release, Release 15, in the middle of 2018. Release 16 was completed in early July 2020. Also, 3GPP 5G spanning Releases 15 and 16 was endorsed as an ITU IMT-2020 5G standard in July 2020. In addition to sub 6GHz spectrum’s effective utilization, Releases 15 and 16 also provide the core functionalities for supporting mmWave technology.

Previously, the use of frequency bands well above 6 GHz has been considered unsuitable for mobile communications due to high propagation loss and the ease with which signals are blocked by the human body as well as building materials and leaves. While these challenges limit mmWave deployment, new antenna technology allows us to explore different deployment scenarios and better understand channel characteristics and signal propagation.

5G bands

5G bands

Characteristics of 5G mmWave

Below are the characteristics of 5G mmWave technology.

Features Description
Data rate 10 Gbps or higher.
Bandwidths 10 subcarriers of 100 MHz each will be able to provide 1GHz bandwidth due to carrier aggregation sub 40 GHz frequency. 500 MHz to 2 GHz bandwidth can be achieved without carrier aggregation.
Frequency Bands The bands are split into “less than 40 GHz” and “40GHz to 100 GHz” frequency ranges.
Modulation types CP-OFDMA < 40GHz SC > 40GHz
Distance coverage 2 meters (indoor) to 300 meters (outdoor).
Frame topology TDD
Latency About 1 ms
MIMO type Massive MIMO is supported. Antennas are small; hence, approximately 16 antenna arrays will be available in 1 square inch.

Benefits of 5G mmWave

Below are the advantages of 5G mmWaves. These benefits make mmWave 5G one of the strongest candidates for future mobile wireless communications domains.

  • Provides more bandwidth to accommodate more subscribers.
  • The narrow bandwidth in the millimeter range makes it suitable for use with small cells.
  • Coverage is not limited to the line of sight because the primary scatter path is feasible.
  • The channel probing feature is used to consider different types of mmWave frequency loss in order for 5G networks to work well. Channel probing is the measurement or estimation of channel characteristics that helps you successfully design, develop, and deploy a 5G network with the required quality requirements.
  • Many antennas are packaged in smaller sizes due to the physically smaller size of their antennas.
  • The 5G mmWave network supports multi-Gigabit backhaul up to 400 meters and cellular access up to 200-300 meters.

5G mmWave: Facts and fiction you should definitely know

  • mmWave doesn’t penetrate walls – High frequency 5G signals cannot travel far, and the transition from indoors to outdoors doesn’t work very well. However, large-scale MIMO and beamforming do not require a strict line of sight to take advantage of millimeter waves. Millimeter-wave signals may not penetrate deep into the building but bounce around the building to ensure a proper signal.
  • 5G won’t work in rains – When it rains, the millimeter-wave signal strength drops slightly, first at a slightly slower speed, and then connection problems can occur. How bad it gets depends on how hard it rains and other factors, such as the distance from the cell tower. Rain causes most problems when connecting at the edge of a millimeter-wave base station range.

Applications for 5G mmWave

Fast and reliable broadband has become very important since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many people work from home. Fixed wireless access (FWA) delivered over 4G or 5G is a cost-effective broadband alternative in areas where fixed line services such as digital subscriber line (DSL), cable, and fiber are limitedly available. Most of the FWA networks currently deployed operate at frequencies below 6 GHz. 5G millimeter-wave technology uses FWA to wirelessly provide gigabit speeds, eliminating the need for fiber optics. Given the large amount of spectrum available, adding millimeter-wave carriers to existing FWA networks increases network capacity and provides the excellent end-user experience needed for high-quality video streaming and more.

Use cases for 5G mmWave

  • Fixed wireless internet access: 5G mmWave gigabit data rates can completely replace a variety of Internet access technologies with hybrid fiber and wireless networks that connect subscribers.
  • Outdoor small cell for urban/suburban environment: A promising deployment scenario for 5G mmWaves is to increase capacity in demanding public spaces and venues.
  • Mission-critical control application: Self-driving cars, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, and drone communications provide similar deployment scenarios for 5G mmWave with less than 1-millisecond predictive network delays.
  • Indoor hotspot cells: Offices, shopping malls, and other indoor areas require high-density 5G mmWave microcells. These small cells can support download speeds up to 20 Gbps, providing seamless access to cloud data and the ability to support multiple applications and various forms of entertainment and multimedia.
  • Internet of Things: Potentially, it covers smart home applications, security, energy management, logistics and tracking, healthcare, etc.


1. What is 5G mmWave technology?

5G mmWave is an innovative cellular technology that provides access to the large bandwidth and capacity available in the frequency band above 24GHz. Thought to be impossible by skeptics, 5G millimeter waves are now being used in wireless ecosystems and continue to gain momentum worldwide. For example, in the United States, all major carriers offer the full range of the latest and best-selling 5G flagship millimeter-wave phones and 5G millimeter-wave services. In Europe, nearly half of the European Union and UK countries have assigned or plan to allocate millimeter-wave spectra to 5G.

2. What is the benefit of 5G mmWave technology?

The 5G mmWave offers the most economical way to enable nationwide 5G coverage. Low bandwidth also helps other Time Division Duplex (TDD) bands improve coverage through carrier aggregation. It combines higher system capacity capabilities with Massive MIMO (multiple inputs, multiple outputs), good coverage, and is already globally available for easy scaling. High bandwidth above 24 GHz provides service providers with the greatest opportunity to offer unprecedented peak rates, low latency, and high capacity. 5G high-bandwidth or mmWave spectra are a valuable resource for sports arenas, dense urban areas with numerous mobile devices, and mission-critical services.

3. What is the difference between 5G and 5G mmWave?

5G vs mmWave 5G

With a mobile that supports both mmWave and sub 6GHz 5G, you can take advantage of very fast 5G speeds when mmWave technology is available, but the traditional 5G coverage is similar to modern LTE networks. Below 6GHz, you can use the most popular 5G networks, but they are blocked by the faster millimeter waves that may be available in the city. Sub 6GHz 5G is more rapid than 4G. However, it doesn’t offer the ultra-fast speeds you get with mmWaves. Carriers are much cheaper to implement as they have a longer range and a better ability to penetrate objects.

4. Why is 5G called mmWave?

The high-frequency band in the spectrum above 24 GHz has the potential to support wide bandwidth and high data rates, making it ideal for increasing the capacity of wireless networks. These high-frequency bands are often referred to as “millimeter waves” because of the short wavelengths that can be measured in millimeters. The millimeter wave band extends to 300 GHz, but 5G is expected to use the 24 GHz to 100 GHz band. Millimeter-wave bands up to 100GHz can support bandwidths up to 2GHz without combining bands to improve data throughput.

5. What is the distinguishing feature of mmWave 5G?

The 5G high band (millimeter wave, also known as FR2) ranges from 24 GHz to 40 GHz. They provide a large amount of spectrum and capacitance at the shortest distance. It also uses Massive MIMO to increase capacity and increase coverage. In addition, it includes wide spectrum segments and low latency available in 5G. The introduction of the new 5G frequency band will be combined with the existing band currently used by service providers. The combined effect of mixing low, medium, and high bandwidth is important to improve capacity and coverage.

6. What is the range of 5G mmWave?

Millimeter waves (high band 5G) are frequencies above 24 GHz. The higher the frequency of the radio waves, the shorter the length of each wave. Due to the high frequency of millimeter waves, the range is limited to 300-500 feet, making it difficult to penetrate buildings. In contrast, 3G and 4G networks can move further and penetrate better into building materials. Until recently, millimeter waves were used only in satellite and radar systems and were typically operated in the military and aerospace industries. However, as data consumption exploded, the industry recognized the need to use mmWaves in next-generation cellular networks.

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