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Filtering Noise

Are Millimeter Waves the “Wave” of the Future?

The overcrowded spectrum has carriers looking to millimeter-wave frequencies as a solution in the next generation of wireless communications.

Without question, millimeter-wave frequencies are a focal point in the RF/microwave industry today. Millimeter-wave technology is certainly not new, as these higher frequencies have been utilized in select applications for a long time. However, millimeter-wave technology is now being counted on to play a significantly larger role than it did in the past.

Of course, 5G communications is the primary reason behind the interest in millimeter-wave technology. As you have probably heard, 5G networks are expected to utilize millimeter-wave frequencies. One main reason why concerns the already overcrowded spectrum—millimeter-wave bands offer a way around this congestion issue.

Among the carriers, Verizon is surely invested in millimeter-wave technology. Furthermore, in recent news, AT&T announced that it will expand its fixed wireless 5G trials to business and residential customers in Waco, Texas; Kalamazoo, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana by the end of the year. In the same press release, AT&T says that “it has gained new insights into millimeter-wave performance and propagation.”

With all of the activity surrounding 5G and millimeter-wave technology, it should come as no surprise that test-and-measurement equipment suppliers are focused on delivering higher-frequency test capabilities. Don’t expect this trend to stop anytime soon.

Two articles in this issue both discuss millimeter-wave technology from different perspectives. “Simulate Your Way to Millimeter-Wave 5G Design Success” discusses how the latest software can be used to overcome challenges associated with 5G development at millimeter-wave frequencies. It can address a variety of aspects, such as hybrid beamforming.

The article “Innovation Leads to Results in Millimeter-Wave Network Analysis” talks about how the latest vector-network-analyzer (VNA) solutions are addressing millimeter-wave testing. These test solutions provide measurement capabilities at frequencies above 100 GHz. Moreover, another article published earlier this year, “VNAs Prove to be Essential Tools for 5G Communications,” discussed the role of VNAs with respect to 5G communications.

To summarize, it is clear that millimeter-wave technology has become a key focus area for many companies throughout the industry. With 5G still under development, millimeter-wave frequencies may very well represent the “wave” of the future.

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