60 GHz band particularly appealing for fixed wireless: report

buildings (Pixabay)
Commercial chipsets are already available for the 60 GHz band.

While Verizon and AT&T have set their sights on a significant portion of the 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum, a new white paper identifies an area where small ISPs may benefit by using unlicensed spectrum in the 60 GHz band.

The FCC has allocated 14 GHz of contiguous unlicensed spectrum in the 60 GHz V-Band, and using unlicensed or lightly licensed millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies, such as the 60 GHz V-Band or 70/80 GHz E-Band, is a cost-effective choice for deploying fiberlike 5G fixed wireless access (FWA), according to the report by Maravedis.

By way of example, the report notes that Webpass, a gigabit ISP acquired by Google Fiber in 2016, is using commercially available mmWave technology to provide broadband service using a combination of fiber networks and point-to-point mmWave radios for residential and business customers. The radios operate in the 70/80 GHz band, avoiding the licensed mmWave spectrum owned mostly by large ISPs like Verizon and AT&T. 

A further advantage of mmWave fixed gigabit wireless networks is the ease of deployment and scaling. “Networks of this kind, utilizing the lightly licensed 70/80 GHz E-band or unlicensed 60 GHz V-Band for last mile wireless broadband, are an affordable and appealing option for many wireline and cable service providers,” the report states. “Of these, the 60 GHz V-Band is a particularly appealing option for FWA service providers. Unlike the lightly licensed 70/80 GHz E-Band, the 60 GHz band is unlicensed, and therefore, is accessible to a wider range of providers.”

In addition, the 14 GHz of contiguous spectrum in the band offers more bandwidth than any other licensed or unlicensed mmWave band. Further, the 60 GHz band has chipsets and technology currently available on the commercial market.

In order to deliver gigabit-to-the-home service, it will be necessary to achieve the right price point for customer-premises equipment (CPE). “Thus, the most compelling case for the 60 GHz band is that it uniquely achieves this CPE price point with a full ecosystem of commercial technology—other mmWave bands do not yet have standardized chipsets available,” the report says.

RELATED: Facebook, Deutsche Telekom double down on millimeter wave tech at 60 GHz

Last month, the Telecom Infra Project announced that it was launching the Millimeter Wave Networks Project Group to focus on use cases, including deploying mmWave to homes, businesses and apartment buildings, as well as providing mobile backhaul and establishing dense connectivity for smart city applications.

Facebook has been interested in determining whether 60 GHz unlicensed spectrum can be used in the context of providing reliable broadband connectivity in dense urban environments. Engineers are looking at a variety of use cases; it could be used to provide connectivity to homes, buildings—in general, providing connectivity in cities.