mmWave signal repeaters are a network asset, because mmWave’s weakness is also its strength
Increasing network capacity through the addition of more cell sites is critical for achieving the coverage and speeds promised by 5G. However, the sheer number of sites needed to get the job done is expensive and daunting. According to Pivotal Commware CEO Brian Deutsch, using signal repeaters to offset the need for new base station buildout has the potential to address this challenge by adding network density in terms of coverage, but not in terms of physical infrastructure, especially when it comes mmWave frequencies.
Typically, because a signal repeater is nondiscriminatory, when used with sub-6 GHz frequencies, those signals tend to travel too far and in too many directions, bouncing off everything, creating significant network interference.
“With sub 6 signals, you would fix one problem and create four others,” Deutsch stated.
“But, guess what?” he continued. “That doesn’t happen with mmWave, because those signals are ridiculously deterministic.”
Millimeter wave signals are point-to-point and line-of-sight. When it hits a building, it usually dies, allowing a company like Pivotal Commware to place a repeater product on the window, with one side facing the user and the other facing the base station, and capture, condition and amplify the signal, and then propagate it with accuracy.
“This is what’s really special about mmWave,” Deutsch said. “The perceived weakness of it are also its strength. This is certainly making lemonade from lemons.”
Further, according to Deutsch, with the addition of a repeater, a single base station that may previously had only been able to provide coverage for 20 or 30 homes, would be capable of covering hundreds of homes.
“That was a kind of a mic drop for folks at the wireless carriers,” he said.
In fact, Deutsch claimed that the Echo 5G — the company’s precision beamforming repeater that counteracts window penetration and reflection loss — on its own gives you a standard of almost 80% coverage.
Unlike a signal booster, the Echo 5G harnesses the mmWave signal from outside, redirecting and pushing it through a home or business glass window, allowing the mmWave signal to enter through glass and lightly flooding the home or business with mmWave signal that can be used to achieve Gigabit+ connectivity.
“That alone caused a shift in the conversation around network densification because that piece of subscriber equipment was so good at going out there and grabbing that signal and pulling it in,” he said.
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