by Karim Hamed, General Manager, Microwave Communications, Analog Devices Inc.
MPD: How effective do you believe operation at millimeter wavelengths will be for meeting the challenges of 5G?
MillimeterWave-5G is meant to be used for capacity and hence will be the most effective in dense urban environments and hotspots. If you’re located in an area such as Times Square or downtown San Francisco—tightly packed areas with high network congestion by nature—it will be apparent these types of environments best demonstrate the efficacy of millimeter wavelengths from a capacity perspective. If you travel on a highway, you won’t receive millimeterWave 5G coverage, as the deployment of millimeterWave 5G in those areas won’t be as economical. Denser areas containing more people will produce a lot of consumer data, whether it be through photo, video, livestreaming, etc.—which is where millimeterWave 5G technology will thrive by providing larger capacity of the network.
Another example are venues like sports stadiums, which have lots of network congestion. If you try to livestream a crucial moment from the venue it will be impossible, especially if others are trying to do the same in a confined space. Also, if you are waiting in a train station in London and thousands of people try to access a website or download a movie at the same time, the network congestion proves too much. These are instances where having the largest 5G capacity possible will prove the most influential and helpful. Nationwide coverage will not require this technology.
MPD: What RF and microwave technologies will have the greatest impact in the next few years?
Looking ahead at which specific RF and microwave technologies will have the greatest impact, I believe that massive MIMO (mMIMO) and phased array technologies are prime to be the future of communications systems, especially with the emergence of 5G. Phased array has been historically used in high-end defense applications and engineers are pushing towards advanced phased array technology that is more commercially viable to achieve greater functionality and improve wireless electronic systems.
At Analog Devices, we’re already seeing the influence of all these technologies on 5G. Our transceiver technologies are critical for mMIMO 5G, which is a mid-band 5G. Additionally, phased array technologies are currently being deployed in the field for 5G sub-millimeterWave. While these technologies will become stronger over the next few years, it’s important to realize they will all need to be underscored by power solutions that help ensure the greatest possible connectivity.
MPD: In addition to 5G and IoT, what commercial markets will be the most important for the industry in 2020?
Within industrial automation, 5G will help bring better reliability, reduced lag time, and increased efficiencies to the factory floor. In a world where people and robots coexist, enhanced connectivity will ultimately improve human-to-machine interaction and reduce the risk of accidents. 5G and wireless technologies will also help drive progress towards fully autonomous vehicles. The potential of 5G’s real-time speed can help enable the incorporation of out-of-vehicle information about traffic patterns, pedestrians, other vehicles, road conditions, and more.
Another market that I see as being important besides 5G in 2020 is satellite communications (SATCOM). For the last several decades SATCOM has played an increasing role in both commercial and military communication and data systems. Yet given the insatiable demand for bandwidth worldwide, and the desire to connect the unconnected, SATCOM offers unique advantages, especially with the new high throughput Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites and its new architectures that enable low cost satellites to be deployed much more efficient and quicker.
Instrumentation is also poised to be further impacted by 5G in 2020. We are currently working with customers to help them plan and build the high-performance test and measurement equipment that make the 5G network infrastructure possible through our core technologies and capabilities.
MPD: Is your company having trouble in finding new microwave engineers?
Analog Devices maintains a strong global footprint with design centers in 50 countries, across five continents. In attracting strong global candidates, we offer unique engineering expertise and capabilities surrounding the broadest range and most complete RF and microwave signal chain components. Emerging 5G deployment continues to represent a significant opportunity for ADI.