Pharrowtech, which designs and develops CMOS-based mmWave hardware and software for next-generation wireless applications, announced the completion of a successful fixed wireless access (FWA) field trial with Telenet, a leading Belgian internet service provider which is part of Liberty Global. The trial demonstrated that mmWave FWA technology can deliver fiber-like throughput of 1 Gbps in real-life scenarios.  

The hardware used in the trial was built by Belgium-based telecom technology and manufacturing partner Unitron and contains radio chips (RFICs) and antenna arrays from Pharrowtech and a baseband processor unit delivered by semiconductor manufacturer Renesas Electronics Corporation. The field trial was executed at the Telenet premises.

The locations selected in the field trial network topology were interconnected via 60 GHz wireless nodes running a dynamic mesh control protocol. The locations were selected to be representative of typical deployments scenarios, and consisted of façade, rooftops and poles in addition to a Telenet radio tower.

The trial, leveraging 60 GHz spectrum, achieved between 750 Mbps and 1 Gbps data rates, based on the distance between the links' end points and explored the capabilities of unlicensed mmWave technology to deliver reliable, high speed consumer and business broadband access.   

FWA is a highly attractive complementary technology to fiber, both in rural areas and more densely populated areas such as Flanders. This is because it offers fiber-like throughput and quality of service, at reduced cost and deployment time. FWA could thus help internet service providers, such as Telenet, reach customers at a lower cost than fiber, as well as increase the footprint to include users once considered financially unprofitable through fiber.

Luk Bruynseels, chief product & technology officer, Telenet commented, “The initial results of the mmWaves FWA trial have been promising. This technology could one day reinforce our fiber strategy by enabling a fiber-like connectivity experience at a faster rollout speed yet reduced environmental impact when compared to wired solutions. Throughout the project we were able to work with and experience Pharrowtech’s network-grade RFICs showcasing the required performance levels within the trials which would be needed to consider any sort of scale up in any wireless gigabit connectivity experience.”

Stephen Deleu, chief technology officer, Unitron, said, “This project has been a valuable opportunity for us to collaborate with respectable companies and showcase our expertise in RF technology. We are pleased with the progress made in our field trials and are looking forward to continuing our efforts in the development of 60GHz technology. As a European manufacturer and technology partner, we are excited to be a part of the future advancements in this field.”

“Leveraging our well-established expertise in solutions for wireless infrastructure, we were very pleased to have our mmWave baseband modem RWM605x included in this FWA field trial,” said Naveen Yanduru, vice president of RF engineering at Renesas’ Infrastructure (Mixed Signal) Business Division, “The future for delivering rapid deployment of broadband wireless access services at multi-gigabit speeds is available today to address all internet bandwidth challenges.”

Wim Van Thillo, CEO and co-founder, Pharrowtech, commented, “This trial is a significant milestone for Pharrowtech, enabling us to validate our products and confirm that they meet the requirements of device manufacturers and operators in real-life conditions. Collaborations like these also enable us to strengthen our long-term innovation roadmap as we work to delivering high speed connectivity to everyone, everywhere.”

Pharrowtech and Unitron are exhibiting at Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2023. Visit Pharrowtech at booth 5G9 and Unitron at booth 7G51 (Belgian-Flanders-Pavilion). 

The MM-WAVES consortium consisted of: Pharrowtech, Telenet Group NV and Unitron Group, complemented by IDLab (an imec research group at UAntwerp and Ghent University) and WAVES (an imec research group at Ghent University).

The imec.icon MM-WAVES project was co-funded by imec and received project support from Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship (VLAIO). It ran from October 1, 2020, until December 31, 2022.