Communication Services

How Operators Can Rapidly Expand 5G Coverage

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<p style="text-align: justify;">5G is the hottest trend now, so much so that even the Covid-19 pandemic, which has badly ravaged the global economy, could not stop its meteoritic rise. Apple&rsquo;s announcement to support 5G across its portfolio cemented 5G&rsquo;s market success. With 5G device shipments expected to grow substantially in 2021, naturally, the industry's focus is on ensuring expanded coverage and delivering on the promise of gigabit speeds and extreme capacity.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">However, it is easier said than done, especially for the new mmWave band, which has a smaller coverage footprint. Leading 5G operators such as Verizon and AT&amp;T have gotten a bad rap because of their limited 5G coverage. One technology option is integrated access backhauls (IABs) with self-interference cancellation (SLIC) that enable operators to deploy hyper-dense networks and quickly expand coverage.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">mmWave Bands And Network Densification</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Undeniably, making mmWave bands viable for mobile communication is one of the biggest innovations of 5G. That has opened a wide swath of spectrum, almost a tenfold increase, for 5G. However, because of their RF characteristics, mmWave bands have a much smaller coverage footprint. According to some studies, mmWave might need seven times the sites or more to provide the same coverage as traditional Sub-6GHz bands. So, to make the best use of mmWave bands, hyper-dense deployments are needed. Operators are trying to use lampposts and utility posts for deployment to achieve such density.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The biggest challenge for hyper-dense deployment is providing rapid and cost-effective backhaul. Backhauls are a significant portion of the CAPEX and OPEX of any site. With a large number of sites needed for mmWave, it is an even harder, more time-consuming and overly expensive process to bring fiber to each of them. A good solution is to incorporate IABs, which use wireless links for backhaul instead of fiber runs. IABs, which are an advanced version of relays used in 4G, are being introduced in the 3GPP Rel. 16 of 5G.</p>
KR Expert - Prakash Sangam