Study Shows How Millimeter Wave 5G Deployment Cost Can Be Cut in Half


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Mobile Experts Inc., a research group providing technical analysis to the mobile industry in 5G, edge, cloud, and IoT development, released a whitepaper titled “Repeaters Cut 5G mm-Wave Costs in Half.” The study’s goal was to assess whether a new network architecture leveraging repeaters could reduce millimeter-wave network cost. It concludes that the traditional 4G, 3G and 2G network expansion approach that adds more radios to increase capacity and coverage simultaneously becomes too expensive in a 5G mm-wave scenario. 

Unlike pre-4G generations of radios, 5G gNodeBs have significantly more capacity but limited range. Therefore, expansion by adding more radios underutilizes radio capacity while dramatically increasing costs and installation complexity. To see the complete report, click here.

To make his determination, Mobile Experts founder and chief analyst Joe Madden based his study on a Dallas neighborhood. The study covered a 1.4 mile area with a high density of sub-6 GHz traffic that during peak times generates about 31 Gb/s of traffic. By January 2024 that number will likely double to nearly 61 Gb/s. After comparing various deployment scenarios, he concluded that rather than employing large numbers of next generation gNodeB (gNB) radios, he used a mesh of smart repeaters to satisfy both coverage and capacity. 

He estimated ten-year total cost of ownership for outdoor and substantial indoor coverage for each scenario:

  • 95 gNodeB (gNB) units only: $12.0M ten-year TCO
  • 10 gNB and 85 wired repeaters: $6.6M ten-year TCO, 48% savings
  • 10 gNB and 60 wired and 60 solar repeaters: = $6.0M ten-year TCO, 52% savings

“This study confirms our own findings that illustrate how the use of our technologies can dramatically reduce the complexity of millimeter-wave deployments while enhancing the end-user experience in reducing overall cost by more than 40 percent,” said Reza Rofougaran, CTO, and founder of Movandi, a developer of 5G RF and millimeter wave technology.

“Our benchmarks with multiple mobile operators reveal that the costs of permitting, fiber, and power to a millimeter-wave network can be significant,” says Madden. “The use of repeaters to ‘spread’ the RF capacity throughout an urban area can effectively cut the operator’s cost dramatically.”

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