Lattice Blog


60 GHz Infrastructure Approaches the Tipping Point

60 GHz Infrastructure Approaches the Tipping Point
Posted 04/26/2016 by Neil Bullock

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Very high capacity, robustness to interference, short range (but just long enough!), license-free: these are the characteristics that make the 60 GHz band ideal for wireless networks in dense urban environments. So why has networking in the 60 GHz band not been widely adopted? The telecom industry, although very interested, still has to be convinced that using the 60 GHz band is the way forward. This can be most quickly achieved by the demonstration of the utility of the technology in large-scale deployments by highly motivated disruptors. With recent announcements by key industry innovators, we might have reached a tipping point.

One of the key technical innovations that put 60 GHz wireless networking into the mainstream is beam-steering, which was pioneered by the SiBEAM Technology Group at Lattice Semiconductor. By replacing traditional fixed antenna technology with phased arrays and electronic beam-steering, SiBEAM has demonstrated that the deployment costs (both capital expense and operating expense) can be substantially reduced, to the point where 60 GHz is more cost effective to deploy than fiber.

The same electronic beam-steering technology that allows the dynamic establishment of point-to-point links can also be extended to the creation of mesh networks. Sectored nodes can achieve a full 360 degree coverage and can be positioned almost anywhere. This flexibility allows for easy insertion and removal of nodes from the network – the mesh will simply adjust. A mesh brings advantages in both network redundancy and network capacity (link load balancing) over traditional point-to-point links.

Once deployed, the same mesh network can be used to deliver a number of different services. The technology was originally proposed for Small Cells as there is a good match between 60 GHz node density and LTE Small Cell network density. It turns out that the density is also close to ideal for Wi-Fi hotspots and fixed wireless broadband access.

So where’s the tipping point? Facebook’s recent announcement of the Terragraph technology solution is a very important validation and I expect that it will be a catalyst for the industry in much the same way as Facebook’s contributions to the Open Compute Project have driven change in the data center.

The SiBEAM Technology Group has more experience than anybody in the application of phased array technology and beam-steering to video and data distribution. Today, we are delivering IP data at a rate over 1 Gbps at 300m using our SB6541 60 GHz baseband processor and SiI6342 60 GHz RF transceiver. Our solution will be ready for the coming tipping point in 60 GHz wireless networking. Telecom industry, are you ready?


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