Gnarly 5G Surfing on mmWaves

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5G may be able to travel further via millimeter Wave (mmWave) spectrum. In its current incarnation, establishing a 5G connection requires a dense network of small cells since the signal cannot transmit very far. However, a press release from Ericsson states that Ericsson, U.S. Cellular and Qualcomm are testing 5G delivery over mmWaves, giving the signal a significant boost over a much greater range. The three companies said jointly they’ve successfully completed the first extended range 5G NR mmWave data call in the U.S. via a commercial network. 

Speaking on behalf of Ericsson, Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks, said “Ericsson is constantly pushing the boundaries of 5G technology to bring its benefits everywhere across the globe. Ericsson has a long and successful track record in extending coverage across generations of mobile technologies. Working with our partners, Ericsson has now demonstrated the commercial viability of long-range 5G radio capability for mmWave spectrum.”

The success achieved by the three companies was the result of applying extended-range software to commercial Ericsson hardware. The hardware connected to a 5G CPE device powered by the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System which utilized the Qualcomm QTM527 mmWave antenna module. 

The greater distance made available by the mmWave connection could prove to be especially useful for “last mile” hook ups to existing broadband networks. Rural areas in particular could benefit from Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) installations that can reach remote communities and still deliver the processing speed to schools, hospitals, and emergency personnel who may be far away from a traditional broadband network. 

Mike Irizarry, Chief Technology Officer at U.S. Cellular, Mike Irizarry stated, “This is a key strategic milestone in our 5G evolution. Expanding 5G mmWave coverage enables us to offer high-speed broadband services to consumers and businesses in rural areas and underserved communities and reinforces our commitment to technological leadership for rural America. It is a concrete example where U.S. Cellular is driving innovation leadership in extended range technology from Ericsson and promoting the high-power device ecosystem enabled by Qualcomm Technologies.” 

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