The world has a massive appetite for mobile data, especially in crowded cities. Operators are going to have to make their loaves and fishes feed everybody—but how? In a brand new report, Mobile Experts reveals how they expect operators to satisfy the hunger for more data, with new networks at 24 to 39 GHz.

Adding capacity is the primary reason that mobile operators are investing in mmWave. According to the recently published 5G Business Case, a few key operators will absolutely need mm-wave bands to keep up with data demand, so despite technical challenges the investment in this technology will surge forward quickly.  

In this new report, MEXP takes a look at the key questions facing the mm-wave segment:

  • Will the range of a radio link be adequate?
  • Will 5G mmWave handle mobility?
  • Can "pencil beams" with huge arrays work for a mobile network?  Is a 1024-element array best, or is the optimal point closer to 256 or 512 elements?
  • How many beams should be used for each RU?
  • What happens when a hand blocks the mmWave antenna on a smartphone?
  • What will happen with non-handset products such as tablets, PCs, CPEs and hotspots?
  • What semiconductor approach is best in the RF front-end, for infrastructure and client devices?
  • How much semiconductor cost will 5G mmWave add to a handset?

"The impact of adding 5G capacity can be dramatic," commented Principal Analyst Joe Madden. "The operator can reduce the cost per GB of data from $1 per GB down to less than $0.10 per GB—if this is done right.   Mobile operators can boost their capacity to capture the entire broadband market, not just the mobile broadband market.  We see this as the best next step for some operators in the market—keyword being some."

Using their tried and true method, Mobile Experts has provided thorough analysis for top major vendors including Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and Huawei with regards to EIRP and Power Efficiency. The report includes a detailed comparison of various mmWave RRH/AAS products, directly contrasting their respective power, size and efficiency.   

According to the report, the development of CPEs, handsets and hotspots for mmWave systems has advanced dramatically, and the integration of semiconductors by players like Qualcomm and Intel has brought down the cost significantly. Our investigation of handset-level EIRP performance illustrates how the UE market will come out differently than most people expect.

"5G mmWave will be a global technology…eventually. During the next five years, the market will be concentrated in the U.S. and Korea, due to high density of traffic and high ARPU in these two markets. The U.S. remains the prime market mainly due to a shortage of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range. Worldwide rollout will be slower, but could last through 2035 and even beyond," commented Madden.

Finally, this report lays out a clear explanation of the confusing terminology of massive MIMO, illustrating the meaning of antenna elements, polarizations, beams, streams, transceivers, panels, RRH and RU, DU and CU, NSA and SA, among many other new concepts.  This is the report that can help to educate your executives on what it all means.