by Donn Mulder, Sr. VP and General Manager, Anritsu Company
MPD: How effective do you believe operation at millimeter wavelengths will be for meeting the challenges of 5G?
Use of the 28 GHz and 39 GHz Frequency Range 2 (FR2) bands is vital to delivering network densification in crowded areas such as transport hubs and sports stadiums. For wide area coverage in large urban cities, millimeter (mmWave) radios face significant challenges in providing coverage, especially in-building. The reason is that there are large propagation losses at these high frequencies in-air and through different materials. The main advantage of the mmWave bands in 5G is spectrum availability, as multiple carriers will have access to and leverage up to 800 MHz.
Test solutions must support mmWave frequencies and be able to conduct tests to ensure products meet 5G standards as outlined by 3GPP and confirm adequate signal coverage in a given area. These test instruments must also allow analysis to be done in a timely and cost-efficient manner to meet time-to-market and cost-of-test requirements.
MPD: If you sell to the defense sector, what do you believe are the major challenges for RF and microwave technology in serving DoD’s needs?
Demand from commercial operators for more spectrum below 6 GHz may push defense applications into the higher frequency bands, such as high data rate backhaul at 71 GHz to 86 GHz. Typically, high frequencies require more skilled and experienced technicians to support it, as well as more costly test instruments. A few challenges result from this market condition-—finding and retaining skilled staff, and selecting efficient test solutions that can help keep projects within budget while providing high accuracy and the necessary measurement support.
MPD: What RF and microwave technologies will have the greatest impact in the next few years?
Phased array antennas with precise beam steering will dramatically impact the way base stations and mobile devices are designed to meet emerging applications. They allow engineers to exploit the mmWave spectrum and achieve the high bandwidth and fast speeds that 5G promises. Therefore, they will have a significant effect on the market over the next 3-4 years.
Another technology driving the market is mmWave radar. It provides greater resolution and fidelity, enabling better object recognition, which makes it highly effective in autonomous vehicles and other emerging remote sensing applications.
MPD: In addition to 5G and IoT, what commercial markets will be the most important for the industry in 2020?
Automotive radar has become mainstream and will become more commonplace over the next 10 years. Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) designed to reduce accidents combine a variety of advanced technologies, such as radar, LIDAR, optical sensors, and advanced vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications systems. This will result in more sensors being produced and deployed. Connected autonomous vehicles (CAVs) are being developed and will rely on the high throughput and low latency of 5G mmWave networks.