The Challenges of 5G Spectrum

5G MobileThere has never been as much uncertainty about spectrum for a new generation of mobile service technology as there exists today for 5G. GSM was set in the 800 / 900 MHz band and 3G was set in the 2.1 GHz band. Vendors aligned their products with the target bands. There was clear focus and purpose. Then came LTE where uncertainty on spectrum began to creep. Looking back at 2006-2009 timeframe when LTE was under developments and in trials, a number of bands were identified and available instead of specific spectrum. Initially the thought was for higher bands such as 2.5 GHz, but LTE was deployed in 700 / 800 MHz first reiterating that coverage is always the lead driver for deployments of new technologies for both regulatory and practical business and operational considerations: after all, there’s no capacity challenge on new networks. Today, fragmentation of spectrum is the hallmark of LTE. While much of the same will be for 5G when it happens, it promises to be even a deeper problem. Read more of this post

Are Small Cells for 5G?

5GcAs the Small Cell Summit winds down I can’t help but wonder whether small cells are a technology awaiting 5G networks. There were many discussions on architecture at the conference which cannot but lead me to ask whether the market and technology drivers are in place for mass adoption. My reading of the situation points to further delays which extends the timeline of deployment to overlap with the inception of 5G networks – whatever that turns out to be. If this happens, mass LTE small cell deployment will stall in favor of 5G. I know that I am not alone in this thinking as a few operators have privately shared the same believe stating out-right that “small cells are for 5G”. What’s said in public aside, the fact is that leading operators are looking at small cells as a part of a much larger package in network evolution that includes a rethink of the network architecture in light of evolving business models and technologies. Read more of this post

Will 5G Be Irrelevant?

Is 5G Irrelevant?Last week I had the privilege to discuss the latest wireless industry trends with colleagues at the RAN and Backhaul conference. We discussed 5G in addition to host of other topics ranging from architecture to virtualization and much in between: spectrum, Het Nets, IoT, etc. As I contemplate the proceedings, I came to wonder about the relevance of 5G!

Today, the focus is on developing consensus on what 5G is and will be: what are the applications and which use cases will it serve? Which technologies and architectures will be best to meet the objectives? Which spectrum it will operate in?  What type of physical layer it will employ? These are but a few questions the ecosystem is debating. But what everyone agrees on is that 5G will support IoT connectivity for a great number ‘things’ in addition to providing better than ever personal broadband connectivity services. Read more of this post

Millimeter Wave MIMO Systems for 5G Access Networks

Guest post by Faris Alfarhan*

Cellular NetworkConventionally, millimeter wave (mmW) frequency bands have been either largely overlooked or treated solely as real estate for wireless backhaul and personal indoor networks. That is mainly due to higher atmospheric attenuation loss, penetration losses, and increased absorption and scattering in rainy conditions. However, recent measurements indicate good outdoor short range coverage – of 200 meters on average – when using directive antenna beams, even when radio line of sight conditions are not met [1-3]. The propagation characteristics of mmW bands vary considerably depending on whether LOS or NLOS conditions are present. Since mmW signals experience low diffraction due to their small wavelength, LOS signals propagate in conditions similar to free space (a path loss exponent of 2 on average). NLOS signals, on the contrary, experience more significant losses and hence a pathloss exponent of 5.7 on average [3]. However, the NLOS pathloss exponent is significantly reduced when directing the Tx and Rx antenna beams towards each other. In order to overcome the increased pathloss at mmW frequencies, directional beamforming or beamsteering is used to generate narrow beams towards users. Since the required antenna size is inversely proportional to the operating frequency, mmW antenna arrays could encompass as much as 64-256 antenna elements at the base station and 4-12 elements on a mobile device. For example, the required antenna element length is about 0.5 cm at 28 GHz,whereas it is about 20 cm at 700 MHz. Figure 1 shows measurement results for the maximum coverage distance of a mmW systems operating at 28 GHz as a function of the pathloss exponent and the combined Tx-Rx antenna gains, where acceptable coverage is deemed to have an SNR of 10 dB and higher. Read more of this post

Observations on MWC 2014 – My Takeaways

Saddlenode BifurcationIn a nutshell, the wireless industry keeps on getting broader and more bifurcated. This is the main trend that has been around for years and that will not stop. Communication is becoming truly pervasive. Opportunities and confusion are intermingled. To understand it all, one needs to cut across wider breadth and dive into greater depth to separate hype from reality. This is a challenge all in its own. Separating the real from the fake is harder than ever!

In this year’s edition, some of my observations are: Read more of this post

What Will 5G Be Like?

5GWe are still at the beginning of the 4G road – in fact some may argue that we did not even reach 4G… officially. Nevertheless, industry chatter on 5G is here. We at Xona Partners have put our thoughts together on what 5G can look like. We recently published a whitepaper on this topic leveraging our multidisciplinary background in different parts of the mobile network. The whitepaper be downloaded through our web site at this link.

I would really like to hear from you what you thoughts are on 5G, what it will be like, how and what it will be used for, and how we will evolve to realize that vision.  Drop me a comment and let’s start the conversation!