As the demand for data grows, more companies are investing in a high-capacity office environment that offers continuous high-speed connectivity. With interest in assessing various microwave and millimeter-wave technologies in terms of cost versus capacity, researchers Vladimir Nikolikj and Toni Janevski recently explored cost-analysis models for the following: 4G cellular bands, 5-GHz Wi-Fi, and a potential 5G system at 28 GHz. In this process, the duo considered a demand of 100 GB per user per month while factoring in the latest 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) releases, upcoming radio-access technologies for millimeter-wave systems, and the propagation/path loss models to address millimeter-wave coverage concerns.
When considering range for the different technologies, the researchers used a dense urban environment. These factors limit the radio range at 900 MHz, 2.6 GHz, and 28 GHz, respectively, to 1.4, 0.57, and 0.1 km. At 5 GHz, for example, Wi-Fi is considered to have a 30-m range at a 1300-Mbps data rate. The bandwidth for the various technologies is considered as follows: 20 MHz for LTE-Advanced; 500 MHz for millimeter wave; and 80 for 5 GHz WiFi. In megabits per second, the average site capacity for these radio-access-network (RAN) technologies are 228 (LTE-A), 2910 (millimeter wave), and 1300 (5-GHz Wi-Fi).
Once the models were developed for the RAN technologies, the researchers saw that costs scaled linearly for macrocell technologies like 4G and 5G. For moderate demands, the aggregated approach (using the 700-MHz and 2.6-GHz bands for 4G LTE-A) were the most cost-effective. Wi-Fi did prove cost-effective under extreme-demand levels for indoor scenarios. Considering long-term planning, however, the researchers recommend deploying pico-cell base stations for indoor and outdoor use with the 28-GHz millimeter-wave channel.
See “A comparative cost-capacity modeling of wireless heterogeneous networks, implemented within the 0.7 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 5 GHz and 28 GHz bands,” 2014 IEEE International Conference On Ultra-WideBand (ICUWB), Sept. 2014, p. 489-494.