Mimosa Networks touts 5G fixed wireless to displace fiber to the home

Mimosa rooftop (Mimosa)
A Mimosa antenna sits on a rooftop as part of a deployment with Sail Internet in Northern California. Image: Mimosa Networks

Mimosa Networks is adding a new twist to the fixed wireless space: It just announced what it’s describing as the first commercially viable 5G fixed wireless internet architectures, the urban MicroPoP and rural GigaPoP, which use the company’s new proprietary Spectrum Reuse Synchronization (SRS) technology.

Mimosa considers its solution a breakthrough, bringing the company to a point where it’s able to fulfill the vision on which it was founded five years ago: Using wireless to connect dense urban and hard-to-reach rural homes at a fraction of the cost of fiber-to-the-home solutions. The first release was in the 5 GHz unlicensed spectrum.

But while a lot of the big cellular carriers are talking about using millimeter wave band spectrum to deliver fixed wireless, Mimosa doesn’t think the higher bands are really where it’s at. Having done a lot of experimentation at 60 GHz, 70 GHz and 24 GHz in various environments, the company has found that they don’t work so well in terms of the ability to reach through trees and contend with moving vehicles in the last 500 feet to the home, according to Jaime Fink, chief product officer of Mimosa Networks.

Some compensation can be done in the licensed spectrum by increasing the power and a lot of urban areas have glass or reflective buildings that signals can bounce off of at millimeter wave bands, but suburban neighborhoods typically don’t have those kinds of structures.

Mimosa prefers to deploy solutions in lower, sub-6 GHz spectrum. But with less spectrum available, efficient spectrum reuse techniques are critical to achieve scale. Mimosa’s SRS technology is spectrum-agnostic, Fink told FierceWirelessTech, but when deployed in the lower frequencies, Mimosa’s solutions expand residential fixed wireless opportunities where millimeter wave solutions struggle in near- and non-line-of-sight areas.

“With a severe shortage of lower frequency spectrum, Mimosa’s real innovation is in developing new technologies to reuse that critical spectrum geographically to reduce the amount of spectrum required to scale a gigabit speed network,” Fink explained in a prepared statement. “The wireless last mile is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario. We must take advantage of fiber where it’s available, use millimeter wave frequencies for reliable short-range backhaul, and most importantly, promote spectrum sharing and reuse techniques in the lower frequencies that are needed to reach people’s homes.”

Mimosa's technology has been deployed in the 5 GHz unlicensed band and the company expects to deploy it in other bands as they come along. For example, it's considering the shared 3.5 GHz band, or Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) band, but it’s not announcing anything for that yet. The company says the Mimosa 5G MicroPoP and GigaPoP solutions represent the first commercially viable 5G solution for residential areas.

The company historically has worked with a lot of wireless ISPs, or WISPs, and says its solution applies to not only rural areas but suburban and urban areas as well.

Rory Conaway, CEO of Triad Wireless, an upstart WISP operating in dense residential areas in Arizona, said in a press release that the opportunity for ISPs to reliably deliver hundreds of megabits per second to each home at one-tenth the cost of fiber changes the game.

“As a 100% wireless ISP using the Mimosa 5G MicroPoP solution with SRS technology, we’ve dramatically reduced our spectrum usage and delivered fiber-like speeds to customers who could not be happier with the experience,” he said. “Using spectrum with some non-line-of-sight capability is critical in the last-mile, and my network would not scale without synchronization. Mimosa will open up many higher density market areas to expand my business.”