7 June 2017
mmWave will be an important part of 5G networks


We now live in a society which is based on constant communication, access to Internet is as important as food and water. According to the Ericsson mobility report [1] mobile data usage has increased by about 50% every year since 2011 to 2016, and it will keep on growing exponentially by 10x until 2022. On top of this there is going to be approximately 30 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to the internet by 2022 (1.5 billion over cellular networks). These numbers are almost unimaginable. This has moved us into a new paradigm, the communication and sensor society. It is happening as we speak and the growth is exponential the coming 5 years. To address this growth, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) organization is working on a new cellular standard which is the 5th generation mobile networks, also called 5G. According to 3GPP the first drop of ‘New Radio’ features, will be in Release 15, which will form the first Phase of 5G deployment and full compliance with the ITU’s IMT-2020 requirements is anticipated with the completion of 3GPP Release 16 at the end of 2019, in phase 2 of the 3GPP 5G effort. mmWave for 5G is also connected to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19), which will agree on and revise the world-wide radio regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum (see Figure 1 for the 5G roadmap). This means that “true” commercial deployment of 5G will not happen until 2020. However, USA Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have already in June 2016 released radio-frequency spectrum for 5G. The newly freed spectrum includes 3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum from 27.5-28.35 GHz (called 28 GHz) and 37-40 GHz (called 39 GHz) as well as 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum from 64-71 GHz (which is more for WiGig type “5G”).




Figure 1: 5G roadmap according to European Commission Ref [2]



Also in the US, Verizon Wireless, US largest wireless operator has released a pre-5G standard [3]. And focus is on a fast as possible launch of pre-5G services on 28 and 39 GHz. Hence, it is safe to assume that there will be pre-5G mmWave services in the US much earlier than 2020. To show their intentions, Verizon also recently made sure that they have the licenses available for this spectrum. By acquire US spectrum license holder Straight Path Communications for $3.1 billion USD. Straight Path was holing 735 mmWave licenses in the 39GHz band and 133 licenses in the 28GHz band, which will cover the entire US. This is a very strong message and commitment to future 5G mmWave services, by Verizon.

Which service can we expect to be the first 5G service? Most players in the industry agrees that wireless broadband to the home or office will be the be first service. This is also called Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and ABI Research forecasts FWA subscribers to grow at a 30% CAGR to top 151 million in 2022 [5]. “The arrival of 5G technology will completely transform fixed wireless broadband network deployments,” says Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst at ABI Research“ [5].

mmWave will also be used for backhaul, as well as fronthaul applications for 5G network. For example, the European union funded project MiwaveS, which Sivers IMA actively contributed to, has focused on how to bring 10 Gbps mmWave backhaul to 5G networks [6], using E-band and V-band. 10 Gbps wireless systems and fiber backhaul will be key to solve the future backhaul need for 5G. Ericsson is for example predicting that almost 100% of the backhaul by 2021 will be Mircowave/mmWave and fiber (see figure 2).



Figure 2: From Ericsson, Industry Analyst Quarterly Telebriefing Ref [7]




There is still a debate when 5G mmWave will be in smartphones. Qualcomm has released information about their new Snapdragon X50 5G modem [8]. The first mm-wave frequencies that will be used in this is 28 GHz. Samples of the X50 modem will be available in the second half of 2017, with production in the first half of 2018, which means that the first mm-wave solution in handsets might be available in 2018. However, that is still in theory only.

To summarize, US is moving quickly to deploy pre-5G using mmWave. This will be the first time wwWave will be part of the cellular access network, starting with FWA as the first use case. Ericsson is predicting that there will be 550 million 5G subscribers excluding FWA by 2022 [1]. If and when mmWave 5G will be in your mobile phones is too early to tell, but it is obvious that mmWave is becoming more and more important for cellular networks and Sivers IMA is in a great position to leverage the long experience and unique capabilities within mmWave.


Anders Storm
Sivers IMA

Ref [1] https://www.ericsson.com/assets/local/mobility-report/documents/2016/ericsson-mobility-report-november-2016.pdf

Ref [2] https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/eu-and-japan-announce-cooperation-5g-mobile-technology

Ref [3] http://www.5gtf.net/

Ref [4] https://www.mobileworldlive.com/featured-content/home-banner/verizon-outbids-att-to-seal-3-1b-straight-path-deal/?utm_campaign=MWL_20170511&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua

Ref [5] ABI Research forecasts worldwide fixed wireless broadband

Ref [6] http://www.fiercewireless.com/tech/5g-project-miwaves-targeting-millimeter-wave-backhaul-for-small-cells

Ref [7] http://ericsson-lg.tw/ericsson/industryanalysts/telebriefings/quarterly_information_briefs/doc/q4-2016/ericsson-microwave-presentation-q416-20170222.pdf

Ref [8] https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/modems/5g/x50