What are the main challenges involved with mmWave 5G?
Looking at this from both a technical and commercial perspective, there are three big problems when it comes to 5G using mmWave frequencies.
Firstly; signal penetration. mmWave is easily blocked; buildings, poor weather, even a user’s hand can block a signal. This makes offering mmWave 5G, particularly in dense urban areas where we see the greatest number of potential use cases tricky.
Next, the limited range of mmWave. These frequencies only have a range of around 300 meters, that is a staggering 50x less than 4G. The result is that significantly more equipment is needed to deliver consistent reliable coverage.
Finally, with a greater volume of equipment, comes the need for significantly higher infrastructure investment. The implications of this are compounded as mmWave must use advanced technologies such as beam-steering for effective coverage which come with a much higher price tag.
Despite these challenges, the reality is that, unlike lower bands, mmWave 5G is able to offer speeds 8x faster than 4G. This is essential to realise the promises of 5G and makes these problems well worth solving and to do this, operators will have to embrace innovation and new approaches.