mmWave critical to future of 5G in USA

NYU Wireless makes 5G Channel Simulator software available for commercialised mmWave radio

A 5G conference and workshop organised by US communications regulator the FCC has heard that Millimeter Wave (mmWave) frequencies are key to realising the promise of 5G networks.

Speakers from NYU Wireless, Google, Verizon and and a clutch of vendors repeated the message that only frequencies in the mmWave bands provide wide enough channel bandwidth and propagation characteristics suitable to meet the future demands that wireless networks will be called on to meet.

Professor Ted Rappaport of NYU Wireless made the case that wireless carrier frequencies (in the USA, but it is applicable elsewhere) had not kept pace with Moore’s Law in the past 40 years. Since 1971 personal computer clock speed have increased 5,000x and memory 4,000,000x. Cellular phone frequencies, by contrast, have grown only 3x – with 850MHz and 2.5GHz bands being released for licensed cellular use.

However, the allocation of even parts of the mmWave bands could radically change that. “By 2018 I predict we will have 70GHz carrier radios working in the first 5G products. If you think about 1GHz carrier frequency, and you think about a 10% bandwidth allocation, that’s 100MHz, which is about where US cellular carriers started out. If you go to 100GHz and take 10% of that that’s 10GHz, that’s one with ten zeroes. That’s orders of magnitude greater spectrum, wider pipes available to the wireless industry. That’s what the spectrum frontiers begin to do.”

wireless frequencies 3x


In Rappaport’s view, spectrum is key to wireless capacity, and with 5G requiring a 1,000x increase in capacity per square km, and 10-100x higher bit rates, with 100x more connected devices in crowded areas, “Millimeter Wave spectrum is needed to meet 5G demand”.

It is this realisation that was behind channel measurements that NYU Wireless began in 2011 – at 28, 38, 60 and 73GHz. The measurements, Rappaport said, prove that “mmWave is revolutionary”.

It tested a directional, scanning antenna picking up signal from a variety of angular locations across a 360* Azimuth plane and found that, “The multipath is actually comparable to today’s cellular generation, which means that a lot of the technologies that we use today for 4G could be applied to 5G, with the exception of the directional antenna needed.”

directional antenna


“It means that new standards and equipment will need to be developed to exploit this directionality of the mmWave channel.”

To help with that, NYU Wireless is making its measurements in those bands available on an open source basis to others looing to develop products. Rappaport said: “We believe it is the first open source channel modelling software suite – we’re actually providing a lot of our raw data that we measures, these time delay and angle spread measurements that can be used by anyone to verify the algorithms and hardware and software architecture that will be required to develop and make commercially viable 5G mmWave.”

You can download the 5G Channel Simulator software here.