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Private 5G networks becoming indispensable -- even more evident during coronavirus quarantine

Various countries are offering licensed millimeter wave 5G spectrum directly to private enterprises, and for good reason. Wifi hotspots are overloaded and cannot scale to meet the rapidly increasing demands for higher capacity and data speeds. For instance, with today’s COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing strict guidelines in place, we are transforming our business practices and classrooms through the use of video conferencing, and we’re quickly finding that we have to eliminate video or reduce the quality, and shaky networks offer poor audio quality due to latency and other network issues. The truth is, this wouldn’t have been the case with mm-wave 5G networks in place.

“Given the coronavirus crisis which will impact the world deeply, the need for new 5G services will rocket up in all industry sectors — in particular, indoor private networks will become indispensable.”

Carriers have long struggled with the high cost of data services leaning heavily toward consumer markets as we all depend greatly on our mobile devices, for general connectivity to streaming content to up-to-the-minute mobile-demand services like Lyft. Now, we are facing even higher capacity needs for critical and economy-boosting activities in the enterprise sector including factory automation, real-time monitoring and control, and even more content-intensive and real-time edge-compute services.

In 2010 when 4G LTE launched, brand new kinds of app-driven industries like ride sharing, food delivery, and micro-mobility developed, paving the way for new economies and giving life to leading companies like AirBnB, TaskRabbit, and Uber. Many believe that the roll-out of 5G will prove to be even more viable, creating markets that we can only imagine today, like autonomous vehicle viability and a whole new kind of mobility-as-a-service economy, for example, and others that we can’t yet imagine, enabling next generations to invent worthwhile markets and causes.

Now we are experiencing a sharp increase of food delivery services due to the quarantine and social distancing guidelines, buying much from online providers like Amazon, DoorDash, and InstaCart for day-of needs. Just when the delivery needs are most critical, we are experiencing limited services. If we had 5G networks in place, tied directly into autonomous vehicles for delivery, goods would be delivered within hours safely and reliably thanks to the true convergence of connectivity and mobility.

Global industry leaders in telecommunications, automotive, robotics, along with innovative start-ups are on the path to making this a reality.

5G Deployment Obstacles

Carriers, network equipment providers, governments, and the entire ecosystem are working hard to solve difficult technology, regulatory, and service hurdles to successfully deploy networks that work in new and challenging high-frequency spectrums, in a variety of deployment scenarios, and support billions of devices, to deliver the promise of 5G high performance at reasonable prices. One of the obstacles facing the industry is how to deploy 5G inside office buildings, manufacturing plants, shopping malls, airports, and hotels, once indoor 5G New Radios (5GNRs) are available. Currently, only outdoor mm-wave 5G gNB are available and placed outdoors propagating signals through glass. With outdoor gNB and indoor 5GNRs the challenge becomes how to redistribute 5G energy where it is needed the most. A clever and elegant way to increase coverage, without adding delay or cost, is to use purely analog passive relays and active repeaters to quickly deploy networks effectively and efficiently. Another obstacle is the release (and associated cost) of spectrum for indoor and outdoor coverage, not to mention the build out of the small cells to cover urban and rural areas, sometimes stagnated by federal and local governments, which operate uniquely in various countries, making global deployment more complex.

Will Private 5G Networks Prevail?

In scattered regions across the US (because local governments release spectrum) and more broadly in Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and China (because national governments release spectrum) offering Local 5G, enterprises are able to own bits of the network, and are already buying at the mid and high bands. As a result, companies across various industries are creating private enterprise networks. In the new 5G era, the world may just switch from a handful of 5G networks per country to many millions, or billions, of public and private cell sites. It might even be safe to say that both indoor and small dense pockets of outdoor 5G might be driven by enterprises, hence creating entirely new business models that could lead to new kinds of services for consumers. We are learning about private entities building networks to provide services to retain and gain customers in new ways.

Indoor 5G will Outpace Outdoor Deployments

Deploying 5G is more successful when the requirements and planning are tightly defined. This is why we’re hearing mostly about individual test beds like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, and specific digital city deployments. In addition, this is how the spectrum is released, to cover very specific areas. When indoor 5GNRs are up and running, we’ll see a sharp increase of deployment across the US and other countries, like Japan, where there is great progress in this area. The goal of private indoor networks is to replace WiFi with 5G, and if the backhaul is already in place, the NRs, coupled with active repeaters and passive reflectors, can efficiently deploy 5G in offices, airports, shopping malls, hotels, etc.

Outdoor small cell 5GNRs are being deployed by carriers throughout dense cities and urban areas as carriers and network equipment providers gain approval to install them. Sending short mm-wave frequency signals through glass indoors is an obstacle that can be overcome using active repeaters that provide a signal boost to propagate the glass, sending the signal indoors to be received by new radios and passive reflectors to distribute the signal where they are needed.

Given the nature of millimeter wave – extremely fast, short signals – the need for economical analog repeaters and reflectors is critical. Metawave’s all-analog TURBO™ active repeater, only needing a small amount of power, working in tandem with its license free analog ECHO™ passive reflector, greatly extends the effectiveness of installed radios. Not only is this deployment more cost effective, it is critical to the deployment, given the short millimeter wave signals. These repeaters and reflectors are needed to bend signals around corners and behind structures, and boost signals into vast spaces indoors.

The Ultimate Long Road 5G Accelerator – Autonomous Driving Convergence

5G will revolutionize how vehicles are built, how cars are serviced, how passengers ride in vehicles, and it will even change business models as more and more leaders offer driving-as-a-service, introducing a new kind of subscription economy. Only possible with the low latency power of 5G, vehicles will communicate directly, interacting with other vehicles, roads and traffic lights, as well as other drivers and passengers, and even pedestrians in the driving scene. And, finally, real-time maps will help save lives through enhanced sensors like automotive radars and cameras, integrated with AI, giving vehicles the perception and intelligence needed to operate autonomously.

5G will fundamentally change manufacturing, automotive, and healthcare, transforming countries and industries everywhere, and offering unprecedented growth. A 2019 DoD report stated that 5G will change the standard of public and private sector operations, from autonomous vehicles to smart cities. IHS Markit predicted that 5G will contribute to $13.2 trillion in global economic output in 2035, offering millions of jobs along the way.

The technology is being perfected and tested by the great minds in networking, and Metawave is proud to be an important part of the solution. 5G convergence applications is a new concept, and we need are exploring new products, models, and forms of business.

Metawave offers its SPEKTRA™ automotive, analog beamsteering radar, 5G TURBO™ active repeaters and ECHO™ passive reflectors. Founded in 2017, Metawave is headquartered in Palo Alto and has labs in Carlsbad and Palo Alto, CA. Contact us:, @metawavecorp, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube.

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