From J.C. Bose to 5G: the evolution of mmWave

The global trend is clear; the number of countries opening using mmWave and formalizing E-band and V-band regulation had grown by more than 20% last year

The first science experiment with millimeter waves occurred in 1897, conducted by Indian scientist Jagadish Chandra Bose. He conducted trials to measure different properties of materials, actually the same experiments we do today. We use the same methods to test different substrates for our RF PCBs, looking for the material that will provide minimum attenuation, high yield and still be low cost. We measure attenuation of the antenna radome material, to make it as transparent as possible for the radio waves. We choose the right coating and the curviness of the microstrip lines to minimize the attenuation and comply with manufacturing design rules.

Figure 1 Bose at 1897, conducts experiments with millimeter waves

Some of his original equipment still exists now at the Bose Institute in Kolkata and apparently, Bose managed to develop a compact version of his set up. Who knows, may be he also had a vision of affordable and compact millimeter wave systems.

I had an honor to talk at the IEEE ComSoc conference in Santa Clara last week about the history, latest trends and different applications of this exciting technology. Together with my colleague Neeraj from Facebook, who discussed Teragraph, we agreed that the main benefit of this technology is to complement and extend fiber.

The global trend is clear; the number of countries opening and formalizing E-Band and V-Band regulation had grown by more than 20% last year:

Figure 2: # of countries with regulated mmWave spectrum according to Siklu database & ETSI mmW group

Facebook’s Terragraph, among other mmWave PtMP projects by Starry, Siklu and others, is a great vision and more evidence that this technology really shines in dense urban environment. Millimeter wave (mmWave) technology provides the answer to the densification and the capacity needed in cities across the globe.

San Francisco takes the densification to a new level, thanks to WebpassMonkey Brains and Wiline, many businesses and residential customers can enjoy blazing fast Internet and a freedom of choice between different service providers.

Figure 3: Siklu radios in San Francisco, CA, according to FCC database

In US, we see more and more cities taking their destiny into their hands and beginning to use millimeter wave wireless for “Smart City” applications. They realize that this technology can bring a gigabit connection to virtually any place in their downtowns and serve as essential infrastructure for physical security, connectivity for anchor institutions and bridge the digital divide gap:

Figure 4: Tens of cities started to use millimeter wave wireless

The same is true for other cities as well, just take a look at London or Manchester for example:

Figure 5: Siklu radios in London, UK, according to OFCOM database

Figure 6: Siklu radios in Manchester, UK, according to OFCOM database

Millimeter wave (mmWave) wireless is a mature technology today and already deployed in 5G applications like fixed wireless and smart cities. The systems available can easily provide multi gigabit speeds and are affordable and reliable. The next generation is just around the corner. It will include self-aligning radios, point-to-multi-point capabilities and enable many new applications.

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