How valuable are mmWaves?

| PolicyTracker

Interest in millimetre waves (mmWaves) is growing. According to a recent report from MicroMarket Monitor, revenue for the mmWave technology market will reach $208.1 million by the end of this year and increase to $1.9 billion by 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.1 per cent.

Google has also just acquired Alpental Technologies, which is reportedly working on mmWave technology in the 60 GHz band. One reporter even described Google’s acquisition, which adds another layer of complexity to the company’s spectrum strategy, as a “step into the 5G game”.

To maintain a CAGR of 45 per cent, mmWaves will need to be instrumental in the next generation of telecommunications.

Ted Rappaport of New York University thinks they will be. He told PolicyTracker earlier this year that the bands offer the fastest way to meet the projected growth in demand for data and that they are “not this mythical crazy place where radio waves won’t work”.

However, Chih-Lin I also told us that her company, China Mobile, has been doing research in this area for two and a half years but had not yet considered the bands.

At a conference in Brussels last week, Alistair Urie from Alcatel-Lucent said the bands were likely only to be used by a well placed “lucky few”. He believes they could be deployed in a small cell layer as a secondary carrier complementing a sub-6 GHz primary carrier.

At the same event, Huawei’s Peiying Zhu highlighted the need for global sub-6 GHz spectrum for 5G. According to her, any spectrum above 6 GHz should be considered as complementary spectrum for “ultra-hotspot capacity”.

Some may see mmWaves as a way of alleviating the pressure on spectrum, but it may be some time before we know how valuable they really are.

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