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Learn about 5G challenges and solutions with these blog contributions from various industry experts.

Horns Will Help to Make 5G Millimeter Waves a Reality

Mario Leone, Owner Impulse Technologies, Inc.

November 18, 2020

Horn antennas and the waveguide transmission lines to which they are typically attached may seem like things of the past, or technologies that have long since seen their primes. But in an age in which the world is readying for the 5G cellular wireless communications, horn antennas provide real solutions for communications links operating at millimeter-wave frequencies. For those who may have noticed slow video streaming or download rates for their large digital files on their smartphone or other mobile communications device working on 4G LTE, 5G is the answer. It is operating within many of the frequency ranges as 3G and 4G LTE, but it is adding much-needed bandwidth for growing numbers of worldwide wireless users and their applications. That bandwidth is at millimeter-wave frequencies of 28 GHz and above.

Millimeter-wave frequencies were once the exclusive domain of military electronic applications, for radar, electronic warfare (EW), and covert communications. But they now hold the answer for wireless communications for billions of users, and even for billions of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that will require wireless interconnections to the Internet. The previous cellular generations simply ran out of bandwidth, unable to support what eventually may be trillions of connections through 5G. The bandwidth at millimeter-wave frequencies is available but it must also be accessible and waveguide horn antennas provide a practical means of wirelessly linking the many small cells and micro base stations that will be needed to provide millimeter-wave 5G to the masses.

What might have once been considered “microwave plumbing” or a form of “ancient” technology provides the performance levels needed for reliable line-of-sight (LOS) interconnections in the many nodes of a 5G wireless network ecosystem. Waveguide transmission lines can not only handle more power with much less loss at millimeter-wave frequencies than coaxial cables, when interconnected to waveguide horn antennas they can combine for the high gain, typically 25 dBi or more at mid-band for even “standard-gain” waveguide horn antennas, and the outstanding directivity needed to maintain those LOS links at millimeter-wave frequencies. Waveguide horns are also physically small enough to be total unobtrusive within the many indoor 5G infrastructure setups that will be needed to maintain millimeter-wave communications within indoor facilities such as shopping malls.

When 5G links require even more gain, top component suppliers such as Impulse Technologies are ready with high-gain waveguide horn antennas from innovative developers such as Anteral. Many of these compact waveguide horn antennas are capable of more than 40 dBi gain at midband in wide millimeter-wave frequency bands, and they can even be equipped with radomes and protective enclosures for outdoor use.

There is no doubt that 5G is coming, with countries such as China already having a huge head start on their 5G networks and numbers of users. Millimeter-wave frequencies provide the bandwidth so vital to emerging 5G networks, even if using such high frequencies might have seemed at one time like a fantasy. With waveguide horn antennas, millimeter waves can be a very real part of 5G! To learn more please contact  mleone@impulse-tech.com.

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