mmWave Comms: A Positive Half-Yearly Checkup
Looking back over the last six months, there has been a number of positive changes in the mm-wave communications market. From the demand side, we have seen the growing need for Gbps data products, plus a large uptick in license applications. From the supply side, we have seen responses from all the major wireless vendors with products, OEMs or supply-agreement announcements.
Clearwire Driving US Demand
Just today, Clearwire registered their 2,000th 70/80 GHz link in the US. Their WiMAX build out across the United States continues to utilize large numbers of mm-wave radios (and 18 and 23 GHz microwave radios too) for backhauling their high data rate IP traffic – good news for BridgeWave and E-Band Communications, their E-band radio vendors. In fact, Clearwire’s network build is dominating US registrations, representing 74% of all recorded links:
Major OEMs Announcing 70/80 GHz Product
Earlier this month, NEC made the most recent announcement of a move into the E-band Gbps space. This follows similar announcements by Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens and Aviat Networks. In fact, of the top six microwave radio vendors (which together represent about 85% of the 1.2 millions radios shipped last year), only Huawei has yet to announce any interest in the 70/80 GHz space.
Consolidation of 60 GHz Standards
We have finally seen some structure emerging with the chaotic 60 GHz WLAN/WPAN standards. Five standards are vying for dominance of the 60 GHz consumer electronics space, whereby low-cost Si devices can utilize the 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum to provide data rates of 4 Gbps (and up to 24 Gbps) over 10 m distances. With an alliance between the IEEE 802.11ad (60 GHz WiFi) and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) groups, we now see a dominant WLAN standard emerging aimed at ultra-high-data rate wireless networking. WirelessHD will remain dominant for the specialized wireless HD distribution application, but both IEEE 802.15.3c and ECMA-387 will have trouble gaining traction in this crowded space.
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