Millimeter Wave Spectrum Boosts 5G Capacity, Speeds

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Millimeter Wave 5G users were able to consume 4.5 times more data compared with 4G, and 2.4 times more than other types of 5G using sub-6 GHz spectrum bands, according to an analysis of data traffic during the month of July issued Wednesday by Opensignal. Meanwhile, labs continue to achieve higher and higher 5G data speeds using mmWave spectrum.

“These significant increases prove the ability of mmWave 5G to boost mobile capacity and help to minimize mobile network congestion,” Francesco Rizzato, Opensignal Senior Technical Analyst, wrote.

In July 2021, the lion’s share (90.7 percent) of mobile data was consumed on 4G networks, compared with only 9.3 percent consumed on 5G networks. T-Mobile dominated the mmWave use of 5G (58.6 percent), followed by AT&T at 41.3 percent and Verizon at 18.7 percent.  

“However, current mmWave services work best outdoors, and because people generally spend most of their time indoors, mmWave’s share of mobile data usage remained relatively low. This will change when U.S. carriers deploy mmWave 5G antennas indoors in more urban venues,” Rizzato wrote. 

Data speeds using mmWave spectrum topped 4.7 Gbps on Vietnam-based Viettel’s 5G network, Ericsson announced this week, which is 40 times faster than 4G and two times faster than current available 5G speed. Along with Ericsson radio equipment, the tests used a smartphone test device powered by Snapdragon® X60 5G modem-RF system.

To achieve the record, the research team of Viettel, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies used the E-UTRA NR dual connectivity (EN-DC) technology on 800 megahertz of mmWave spectrum. 

In August, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and ZTE, announced they had achieved a peak downlink speed of more than 2.43 Gbps over mmWave spectrum. The tests were completed using a smartphone form-factor test device powered by the flagship Snapdragon® X65 Modem-RF System, and ZTE mmWave AAU network infrastructure equipment.

The demo used 5G NRDC with one 200 MHz carrier in the 26 GHz (n258) mmWave band, along with one 100 MHz carrier in the 3.5 GHz (n78) band, using a single device. In the tests, the companies also achieved a peak downlink speed of over 5 Gbps using a single device employing carrier aggregation with four 200 megahertz carriers in the 26 GHz (n258) mmWave band and successfully tested two 200 megahertz mmWave carriers on the uplink. 

In June, Ericsson and MediaTek said they had performed a four-component carrier uplink aggregation on mmWave that resulted in a peak throughput rate of 425 Mbps – 495 Mbps in New Radio plus 70 Mbps in LTE. The demo used pre-commercial software on a device containing a MediaTek M80 5G chipset. The lab test used Ericsson RAN Compute baseband 6648 with the AIR 5331 millimeter wave radio.

In March, Samsung Electronics today announced it achieved data speeds of 5.23 Gbps to a single device using EN-DC technology, which enables mobile operators to boost 5G speeds and coverage by leveraging a 4G network.

The demonstration, carried out in Samsung’s lab in Korea, successfully combined 40 megahertz of 4G frequency and 800 megahertz of 5G frequency in the mmWave band. For the demonstration, Samsung used its commercial end-to-end solutions comprising devices and network products, including the Samsung Galaxy S20+ smartphone, 4G radios, 5G radios (compact macro link), and 4G/5G common core.

Also in March, Nokia announced that it had achieved a 5G speed of more than 4.5 Gbps during a trial with Turk Telekom in the Turkish capital city, Ankara. The speeds were achieved on a 5G New Radio, using Nokia’s AirScale 5G RAN solution on 26 GHz mmWave spectrum, 800 megahertz bandwidth and a single user device. During the trial, Nokia’s AirScale Base Station connected with a mobile device to transfer data across Turk Telekom’s 26 Ghz mmWave spectrum.

Early in 2020, Ericsson achieved delivery data rates of 4.3 Gbps, with a technical specification comprising eight component carriers aggregating 800 megahertz of mmWave spectrum. The Ericsson Radio System Street Macro 6701 delivered the downlink speeds over-the-air using a 5G smartphone form factor test device powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X55 5G Modem-RF System. 

By J. Sharpe Smith, Inside Towers Technology Editor

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