Does a dropped connection or slow speeds your smartphone or tablet drive you crazy? Flashbacks of the sales rep whizzing on the Internet, or running cool apps on what would become your new smartphone instantly start happening and you wonder if you were sold junk. In a last ditch effort, you start holding the phone up in the sky, walking in circles, hoping you can pick up a stronger signal.
Don’t worry, it’s not just you. It happens to millions globally, and depending on your area coverage, you have to live with it as telecoms aggressively turn to upgrading their wireless/cell networks. One of the biggest reasons behind this is the worlds cellular phone networks have reached the problem of transmitting high capacity data of millions of people on old technology.
One of those huge bottlenecks is when the cell phone towers try to communicate with other cell phone towers (cell backhaul) to reach the main Internet backbone at telecom centers in every city. Devices like smart phones thirst for higher data speeds and cell towers today are trying to transmit this enormous amount of data through the same garden hose it’s been using historically.
How do we improve our infrastructure?
That question is being answered by the rise in millimeter wave technology and companies like Millimeter Wave Products Inc., MIWV.com, DragonWave Inc., Bridgewave Communication and more. Millimeter Waves (mm waves) operate in the 30-300GHz frequency range. The use of this range allows for greater bandwidth, therefore allowing a greater capacity of data to be transmitted. In cases today, mm waves are allowing for these links to carry data as high as 10Gib/s. As the technology matures, some propose that it will be capable of transmitting up to 40Gib/s by 2015.
While the use of millimeter wave technology has been around for decades, the rise of bandwidth needs for devices has skyrocketed. The demand for mm wave based systems and devices is beginning it’s aggressive upward trend as telecoms, device makers and software providers converge to deliver next generation high bandwidth systems.
Small cell technology which encompass Picocell, MicroCell and FemtoCell technology are great examples of advancements paving the way for the future of wireless capabilities around the world.
In the PicoCell and MicroCell arena, telecom providers have the ability to deploy low cost solutions to allow high speed capacity solutions that work with current cell phone systems. Technologies like 4G LTE are a good example of companies using millimeter wave based small cell systems to allow for higher cell backhaul and outright tower bypassing systems when possible.
The heterogeneous network (het-net) of tomorrow will likely be comprised of multiple layers of small and large cells working together. The small cell term is relatively new and is sometimes used in different ways. It is used as an umbrella term which includes MicroCells, PicoCells and FemtoCells.
Imagine a world where thousands of micro/pico cells are in a city on the side of buildings, light poles, stop lights, bridges etc… your calls and data are forwarded along a succession of picocells, to get to the main datacenter within the city. This would essentially allow the bypassing of cell towers outright.
This is happening today. Companies like Millimeter Wave Inc. engineer and produce components such as their 261V standard gain horns(antennas) for major players in the telecommunications industry around the world. Discussion and predictions of potentially large growth in the market overall is a direct result of the adaptation of millimeter wave products to cell systems. MIWV’s ability to manufacture these components from raw materials provides the company with a unique view of the industry from the ground floor.
“It used to be that the main line of business was the defense industry. Our work with government organizations like NASA, the DOD and defense contractors were a major source of orders.” says Mark Smith, President of MIWV.com. “Today it seems the telecommunications industry is exploding and is a central cause in our spike in sales, growth and inquiries from around the globe. One indicator is our demand for test and instrumentation products. A good example is our Fade Margin Testing equipment like our 510 & 511 attenuators. Requests for this item have gone through the roof. Increased equipment sales like this are signs of major investment and research into millimeter wave based systems.”
Exploding in growth is definitely right and it doesn’t stop there. The roll out of small cell technology on mm wave technology is not only a boom for telecom, but also device makers. As of January 2013, WiGig 802.11ad standard was finalized and published by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) which is paving the way for device makers to create WiGig or “Super Wifi” products at the 60GHz spectrum to be used for transmitting high capacity data. Dell already was one of the first to announce an ultrabook product utilizing WiGig/802.11ad technology.
This standard ratification is a major step which I discuss more in this article. (Read here)
The future is bright for millimeter wave technology in the realms of telecommunications, automotive radar, and more. With the FCC proposing radical changes in the way we use and deploy wireless coverage and access, it’s a call to wireless carriers to increase high speed data capacity. The next decade will be a major boom for the millimeter wave industry, device makers and telecoms involved in this space. Analysts are predicting strong growth globally in the small cell arena.
The outdoor picocell market, which is still in the early stages of development, is projected to reach $8 billion in global revenues by 2016 according to ABI Research.
In a Goldman Sachs report titled : “America’s Communications & Technology Opportunity” they cited specific companies like AT&T, which “has laid out plans for investments in 40,000 Small Cells through its increased capex budget.” This development is particularly significant in that it “will help make Small Cells mainstream in North America, and expect this to be an important catalyst in 2013.”
For more on Millimeter Wave Products. Please contact [email protected]