The 60 GHz band is ideal for infrastructure applications in urban environments and is a very cost-effective alternative to fiber deployment. So why are we not seeing 60 GHz nodes on every street corner? There are important changes coming in the regulations governing the use of the 60 GHz band which make this more likely in the near future.
With the advantages of phased array antennas and electronic beam-steering technology for large urban deployments now well understood and implementations from Lattice and others becoming available, we are starting to see large scale trials – a good example of which is the Facebook Terragraph trial in San Jose, California where a 10 square kilometer region of the city will be provisioned with high-speed Wi-Fi supported by a 60 GHz mesh network.
The benefits of this technology are universal and are even more valuable in regions with a larger broadband connectivity deficit. However, while the 60 GHz band is license-free in most regions, it does not mean that it is completely without regulation – and those regulations are typically written to take into account the capabilities of the equipment that is available at the time. As an example, the recommendations Rec. 05(02) and Rec. 09(01) of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT), which are applicable to its 49 member countries, have minimum antenna gain requirements for outdoor Fixed Service that are fine for conventional equipment but effectively prohibit next-generation equipment that uses beam-steering technology. By contrast, the Federal Communications Commission in the United States has already adopted rules that are friendly to beam-steering technology.
The increased awareness from the operators and equipment manufacturers regarding the benefits of phased array antenna and electronic beam-steering technology is now translating into a debate between regulatory committees. As part of this activity, Lattice recently participated in a technical analysis led by Huawei that forms the basis of a multi-company contribution to the Fixed Service working group in CEPT (ECC SE 19) recommending regulatory change. Lattice provided the system parameters for its current wireless infrastructure solution so that Huawei could model the propagation characteristics and probabilities of interference in a simulation of an urban deployment. You can learn more about wireless infrastructure products built with Lattice’s SiBEAM technology here.
Simulation scenario from technical analysis contribution to CEPT
The study found that “Point-to-MultiPoint (PtMP) and MultiPoint-to-MultiPoint (MPtMP) products with maximum EIRP 40 dBm, in meshed networks, where each network element with beam-steering antennas could be reached by more than one direction by other equipment with link auto discovery seem better fitting the dense urban scenario providing very good performance and low probability of interference”. This is a very strong endorsement! The technical contribution now forms the basis of the investigation by SE 19 which will, in all likelihood, permit the use of beam-steering technologies in outdoor applications.
The review in Europe is echoed in other parts of the world as regulators determine the most effective use of their spectrum assets. On March 13, 2017, Argentina’s ENACOM approved the use of the 57-64 GHz band for Fixed and Mobile Services and authorized use of “wireless broadband local access systems in shared mode”. On May 9, 2017, Mexico’s Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) classified the 57-64 GHz frequency band as license-free spectrum for indoor and outdoor use. In India, TRAI has recommended to the Department of Telecommunications the delicensing of the 60 GHz band for both mobile and infrastructure applications in support of the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make In India’ initiatives and action by the Government of India as anticipated.
The promise of phased array antenna and electronic beam-steering technology is to revolutionize the delivery of fixed wireless access and mobile network and metro Wi-Fi services without the need for costly and time consuming fiber installation. Lattice’s wireless infrastructure products provide operators and service providers with the actual means to deploy such networks. We will continue to work with equipment manufacturers and operators to promote regulatory change where it is needed to fully realize the potential of these technologies and to reduce the global broadband deficit, delivering gigabit wireless everywhere. It’s time consuming work – but we can sense that change is in the air!