T-Mobile may have something worth watching with its proposed 5G-like services in the 600 MHz band.
While much of the hubbub around 5G uses ultra-wideband channels, which is readily available in the mmWave bands, the sub-1 GHz bands have something to offer as well. It seems that T-Mobile is doing some serious thinking around that.
One of the challenges of mmWave is propagation. To have a ubiquitous wireless network in the ten’s of GHz bands will be a challenge, especially for enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB). As one drops below 1 GHz, coverage improves significantly. At 600 MHz, propagation has a well-understood model and offers orders of magnitude of better coverage than mmWave for large areas or locations with lots of interferes.
600 MHz will not achieve the densification envisioned for mmWave. But it can offer enhanced mobile coverage with some of the features of 5G, particularly latency and spectral efficiency where a lot of work is going on. It should be noted that the IMS 2020 specification is not just about gigabit speeds, but also addresses network architectures that enhance spectral efficiency in a variety of ways.
Therefore, with 5G air interface improvements integrated into 600 MHz platforms, this may be one of the surprises that comes out of the 5G tussle.
Another vector in this low-band discussion is using it for an initial jumping off point for 5G then migrating the service to mmWave once some metric becomes available and a knowledge base develops on mobile in mmWave. It should be a lot easier to either scale or translate the technology to mmWave, theoretically.
As Nokia said in its press release about working with T-Mobile, it wants to help T-Mobile “provide a multi-layer, cross-spectrum blueprint for how the networks of the future will come into existence.”
Well, there will be a lot of eyeballs on this approach. Could it be the sleeping giant that makes a significant impact on what these future networks look like? Or will is just be another dead end that seemed like a good idea at first. We will just have to wait and see.
Ernest Worthman is the Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology and a Senior Member of IEEE. His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.