Understanding How Millimeter Waves Power the 5G Network

Challenges in Designing the Next Generation Network

As the number of mobile users and their expectations rise, 5G must be capable of transmitting more data quicker than existing mobile network base stations.

What Is Millimeter Wave?

Millimeter waves, also known as extremely high frequency (EHF), is a band of radio frequencies that is well suited for 5G networks. Compared to the frequencies below 5 GHz previously used by mobile devices, millimeter wave technology allows transmission on frequencies between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. These frequencies are called millimeter waves because they have wavelengths between 1 mm and 10 mm, while the wavelengths of the radio waves currently used by smartphones are mostly several dozen centimeters.

What Are the Advantages of Millimeter Wave Technology?

There are two ways to increase the speed of wireless data transmission: increase the spectrum utilization, or increase the spectrum bandwidth. Compared to the first approach, increasing the spectrum bandwidth is simpler and more direct. Without changing the spectrum utilization, increasing the available bandwidth several times over can increase data transmission speeds by a similar amount. The problem is that the commonly used frequencies below 5 GHz are already extremely crowded, so where can we find new spectrum resources? 5G’s use of millimeter waves uses the second of the two methods to increase transmission speeds.

What Are the Disadvantages of Millimeter Wave Technology?

The use of millimeter waves has one major drawback. Millimeter waves are not capable of penetrating structures and other obstacles. Even leaves or rain can absorb these signals. This is also why 5G networks will have to adopt the small base station method to enhance traditional cell tower infrastructure.

Conclusion

We have discussed several aspects of millimeter waves, and how these waves offer a practical approach to solving the mobile bandwidth crunch. The technology is likely to gain wide-spread adoption soon.

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