November 22, 2016 —
The latest move from the FCC is the opening up of some 11 gigahertz of spectrum in the millimeter wave (mmWave) bands. This spectrum is between the 28 and 71 GHz frequencies. The Spectrum Frontiers proposal brings 3.85 gigahertz of licensed spectrum and 7 gigahertz of shared/unlicensed spectrum to these bands.
This is a significant milestone and it shows the FCC is getting on board with the fact that mmWave spectrum might just be the single most important piece of the 5G and internet of anything (IoX) ecosystems. This is because mmWave spectrum is capable of supporting ultra-high-capacity mobile communications, as well as being relatively uncluttered. And, it can support a number of emerging wireless technologies.
However, we all know there are challenges. And, as Qualcomm SVP of Government Affairs Dean Brenner said, “Achieving this use of mmWave spectrum will not come easy since high propagation loss and susceptibility to blockage has traditionally made these higher spectrum bands unsuitable for mobile networks. But everyone is banking on the fact that advanced 5G technologies will overcome that.”
One methodology, in those advanced vectors, that is already showing promise is the ability to significantly increase the number of antenna elements. This is because the higher the frequency, the smaller the wavelengths, hence smaller antennas. Add advanced beam forming techniques to that and propagation distances increase because the RF energy is concentrated, directionally.
Additionally, the technology will incorporate intelligence into the network. One example is to implement techniques such as continuous intelligent beam searching and tracking to discover and switch to the dominant beam path.
There is more, but for now, this is pretty cool.