[Note: This item comes from friend Joly MacFie. DLH]
Millimetre wave.. omigerd it’s going nowherrr.. Apple, you say?
Guess who’s joined the bandwagon…
By Wireless Watch
May 30 2017
Apple may not be the invincible force it once was in mobile, but it is still unrivalled in its ability to scatter stardust over new technologies – just ask the companies which struggled to push Wi-Fi Calling or wireless charging into the mainstream before the iPhone maker came along. Now it has kindled new sparks of enthusiasm, or perhaps hype, around millimetre wave spectrum by applying for an experimental licence to test high frequency bands in the US.
The mmWave bands are being closely watched as a potential new source of plentiful spectrum capacity. However, despite some interesting trials in Japan and South Korea, the major commercially oriented activity is confined to the US and fixed wireless access. Also, the challenges of deploying in these bands are starting to be fully appreciated, risking a bursting of the bubble.
Apple plans mmWave tests in California
So it is timely for mmWave enthusiasts that Apple has helped restore the faith. It has asked the FCC for permission to test in 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands – the main ones which are envisaged for commercial services from Verizon and AT&T from next year. Verizon is, so far, the major holder of these airwaves, having made several acquisitions to secure licences in both bands. AT&T has 39 GHz licences and T-Mobile gained some 28 GHz spectrum when it bought MetroPCS. Further mmWave airwaves will be auctioned at a future, as-yet undecided date.
Apple aims to carry out the tests at its Silicon Valley headquarters and in Milpitas, California. “Apple Inc. seeks to assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum. These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks,” the company said in its filing.
Light Reading reported in November that Apple was advertising for “multi-gigabit” mmWave chip designers, though there are many issues with implementing these high frequency radios in mobile devices at affordable cost and acceptable battery life. Complex antenna design and beamsteering will be required to address the limited propagation of low power equipment in high frequencies – the most prominent trial of mobile services, outside the lab, is being undertaken by Softbank and Ericsson in Japan.
Millimetre wave bands are in use already in wireless – for point-to-point “wireless fibre” high speed links including backhaul, and in the 60 GHz band, which supports the Wi-Fi-like WiGig. This has been implemented in chipsets suited to handsets although its main commercial use so far has been for high speed, short range connectivity between devices – to transfer video between TVs and tablets in the home, for instance, or to link PCs to peripherals.
However, Apple could get into the 28 GHz/39 GHz game early by designing a home gateway, Apple TV or iPad which could link to the operators’ fixed wireless services (the tablet could still have a sub-6 GHz radio for mobility purposes). Apple has tested its DirecTV services in 39 GHz.