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5G mmWave: What Is It & What Are Its Benefits?

What Is 5G mmWave?

Millimeter waves refer to frequencies starting at 24GHz and above.  mmWave bands have a low coverage range but offer extremely high bandwidth and high speeds. 5G mmWave has huge potential in applications such as the following:

  • Connected Vehicles
  • Smart City IoT 
  • Hospitals and Emergency Response 
  • Schools and Universities

Networks using the 5G mmWave can expect to see speeds much faster than 4G, across a distance of approximately 300 meters from the cell tower. Organizations use a network of small cells to expand their mmWave signals beyond this limitation when needed. 5G small cells are vital for improving mmWave coverage, capacity, and density. 

How Is 5G mmWave Different from 5G?

The terms mmWave and 5G are typically used interchangeably; however, there are significant differences between the two. 5G refers to the cellular wireless technology at hand, while mmWave specifically refers to the radio spectrum between 24GHz and 100GHz. This range is referred to as high-band 5G and is best used in densely populated areas across shorter ranges.

This is an important distinction because not all of the 5G spectrum is created equally. For example, low-band 5G signals are designed for long-distance communication while high-band 5G is best for short-range and high-performance applications. Mid-band falls somewhere in between, balancing range and performance. Organizations often use all three bands across their network to meet specific business goals.

Why Is 5G mmWave Important?

5G mmWave provides the highest levels of speed and capacity that make cutting-edge technology, such as autonomous vehicles, possible. MmWave is best suited for environments that require ultra-low latency and higher speeds over shorter distances.

Technology such as driverless vehicles requires ultra-low latency connectivity in order to receive inputs and process information in as close to real time as possible. For example, driverless vehicles can use the 5G mmWave band to communicate with other vehicles en route to avoid traffic and collisions with obstacles.

This level of real-time communication was close to impossible with previous cellular standards. When milliseconds matter, 5G mmWave provides some of the fastest speeds currently available.

Benefits of mmWave 5G

Both consumers and businesses are set to benefit from 5G mmWave networks. Some businesses might choose to extend 5G mmWave signals from the carrier networks throughout their facilities via small cells, or directly rely on cell towers outside. 

Small cells tend to be the winning option due to shorter range (compared to traditional low and mid-band frequencies used by cellular wireless) offered by high frequency mmWave operation, which prohibits strong coverage indoors due to building materials. 

As the building materials continue to get more energy efficient, the challenge of covering indoors with outdoor cell towers using mmWave also increases. 

Generally speaking, both consumers and businesses can expect the following benefits from 5G mmWave:

  • The fastest 5G speeds possible - faster downloads speeds and data transfers
  • Highly localized cellular coverage - ideal for dense populations and enterprise applications
  • Ultra-low latency connections - powering augmented reality, emergency response use cases, autonomous vehicles, and more
  • Small cell coverage expansion - allows organizations to expand their mmWave capabilities through a network of small cells

5G mmWave Use Cases

While mmWave technology is fairly new, this hasn’t stopped businesses from considering deploying it across their environments. Below are a few examples of industries leveraging 5G mmWave to improve their services today.

Smart Cities

While smart cities may sound like a thing of the future, they’re already here. Cities like New York and Boston are already using 5G networks to provide enhanced services such as trash collection, public transit, and even plot out high crime areas in real time. The 5G mmWave band enables smart cities to support everything from internet backhaul connectivity in vehicles to high definition live security camera feeds.

Enterprise Applications

Private 5G has enabled enterprises to achieve levels of unmatched performance and control across their networks. For those applications that can benefit from public mobile network connectivity, 5G mmWave plays a key role in providing targeted high-performance service for vehicles, users and devices on the move across cities. For example, industries using IoT applications across fleets of vehicles can use the improved data rates and latency in 5G mmWave to gain insights faster via predictive analytics across their mobile network.

5G mmWave Challenges

MmWave signals aren't without their challenges. Since mmWave signals use a shorter wavelength, they travel significantly less distance than low-band or Sub-6 5G. 

MmWave signals also require a fiber backhaul and rely more heavily on line of sight for coverage. 

Lastly, mmWave signals struggle to penetrate objects such as glass, walls, buildings, and dense foliage.

The good news is that there are many ways to overcome these limitations. The first is to consider if mmWave is the right choice given your goals or requirements. In some cases, mid-band 5G can achieve the levels of speed and coverage necessary to meet your service-level goals.

In cases where latency and speed is paramount, mmWave coverage can be expanded through a network of small cells and repeaters. For example, small repeaters can amplify weak mmWave signals indoors and dramatically increase performance and coverage. Additional small cells can also improve coverage and expand the 5G mmWave network.

Many organizations only use the mmWave band for high-performance applications since it requires more infrastructure than broadcasting across the mid and low bands. 

Bringing 5G mmWave to the Enterprise

Celona’s industry-first approach enables enterprise organizations to build their own private 4G LTE and 5G networks as a seamless turnkey solution. Next to applications and devices that are supported by 5G mmWave technology in public mobile networks, Celona networks powered by private spectrum options (such as CBRS in the United States) offer a way to improve control, security and performance for critical use cases within the enterprise. 

With a Celona 5G LAN, the out-of-the-box experience is drastically simplified, operations across a large network can be performed at scale, and onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.

To get started, check out a live demo of Celona’s solution by visiting us at celona.io/journey where you can also sign up for a free trial of a Celona 5G LAN.

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