It’s about finding the hot zone for mmWave in consumer 5G, and building the ecosystem.
The massive bandwidth contained within the 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum holds tremendous promise to unlock new services. Finding the right deployment strategy has proven to be challenging for some communications service providers (CSPs) who face coverage and propagation issues using the tech.
The devil is in the details, or so the saying goes. Finding the right deployment strategy is also the secret to unlocking mmWave’s promise. RCR Wireless News explored the potential of 5G mmWave in the consumer 5G market with leading experts in the field during our recent 5G Monetization Forum.
“There’s huge bandwidth in this spectrum, and that’s required for the real promise of 5G,” said Movandi CEO and Co-founder Maryam Rofougaran.
From Irvine, CA-based Movandi’s position as a full-stack mmWave solutions provider, getting 5G mmWave to work as a solution to provide fixed wireless access isn’t about technical challenges. And it certainly isn’t about developing a market; she pointed to statistics showing large tracts of the U.S. population without high-speed access, either because they’re too remote for companies to bother or in urban areas burdened with aging communications infrastructure. It’s about aligning a supply chain that answers customer requirements.
“So far the challenge has been that the devices have not been available, or if they were available, they were too expensive,” said Rofougaran.
There’s a considerable market opportunity: Rofougaran points to Research & Markets data that says the fixed wireless access market will grow from $823 million in 2021 to $3.3 billion by 2026.
Making the mmWave case for carriers
Making the business case for telcos to deploy 5G was the recent focus of research conducted by Bell Labs Consulting. Finding the revenue potential for mmWave involves deploying the technology strategically, according to Stephen Rose, Executive Partner, Bell Labs Consulting.
There’s gold in them thar hills, wrote Mark Twain.
“We could see that most operators…would be able to achieve an 8 percent growth in their top line. That’s massive,” said Rose. “That would be a hard statistic to sniff at.”
Bell Labs identified what it terms as “hot zones” for mmWave deployments: indoor shopping malls, stadiums, train stations in urban areas, outdoor hotspots and more.
“The business viability of mmWave is sensitive to certain factors like subscriber density, the size of the hot zone and the penetration of mmWave devices,” he said.
Hot zones are high-density locations identified by telco operators, Rose explained. They’re places where the operator perceives a business opportunity based on demand. Finding the right mix is key, Rose said.
Bell Labs said that a range of 1,000 to 3,000 subscribers per hot zone is the Goldilocks zone for UK 5G mmWave deployments. Go too high, you run the risk of reducing your total addressable market, Bell Labs tells CSPs. Go too low, and you won’t have a viable business to build.
Building the mmWave ecosystem
Qualcomm and Movandi’s recently-announced partnership hopes to move CSPs in the right direction by providing a more economical way to deploy mmWave in those hot zones identified by Bell Labs. Qualcomm and Movandi are combining the capabilities of mmWave small cells powered by Qualcomm FSM 5G RAN Platforms and Movandi-powered 5G smart repeaters. Their goal is to lower the cost of mmWave deployment costs for carriers.
“This market needs more alliances,” Rofougaran said.
The new partnership may prove once and for all that mmWave’s well-documented challenges are, in the right hands, opportunities.
Rofougaran said that mmWave can even ensure better network security because the frequencies won’t penetrate too much beyond the walls of an enterprise or business.
“The penetration issue, the line-of-sight issue, these could actually be advantages in some cases because you can actually control the signal better,” she said.