Millimeter waves traveled farther and more accurately than expected, according to a presentation from NYU Tandon’s Ted Rappaport.
The professor used measurements taken by him and his students in his rural Virginia summer home this August to generate the first rural path loss model for millimeter wave frequencies at 73 GHz.
“To their delight, the group found that the waves could travel more than 10 kilometers in this rural setting, even when a hill or knot of trees was blocking their most direct route to the receiver,” according to a story from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). “The team detected millimeter waves at distances up to 10.8 kilometers at 14 spots that were within line of sight of the transmitter, and recorded them up to 10.6 kilometers away at 17 places where their receiver was shielded behind a hill or leafy grove. They achieved all this while broadcasting at 73 Gigahertz (GHz) with minimal power—less than 1 watt.”
The findings, which Rappaport presented to the Association of Computing Machinery’s “All Things Cellular” workshop last month (slides below), continue the promising news on the quest for a legitimate 5G cellular network at the higher reaches of the electromagnetic spectrum. The problem is that right now, our cellular bandwidth is full of people using it. The current cellular networks run on longer, slower wavelengths, which are also strong and durable. But at the higher frequencies, researchers are finding hope in the more fragile waves. And there’s tons of space.
“In the past it’s been believed that the signals wouldn’t propagate far at those frequencies,” Dr. Sundeep Rangan, an associate professor at Tandon who’s working on the 5G project said in an interview with Technical.ly Brooklyn earlier this year. “But now that we’ve made new measurements, a lot of them being made by Rappaport here, these bands could sustain distances even outdoors with obstructions. That attracted a lot of interest.”
Some of that interest was reflected in $4.45 million in funding the state gave to NYU Tandon last year to work on 5G cellular technology and cybersecurity.
The millimeter wave spectrum, Rangan says, would not only have a ton more space than the current cellular networks, but could also ratchet up to speeds way faster than anything we’re used to currently. Preliminary tests by Nokia at NYU last year showed speeds up to several Gigabits per second. I just speedtested my phone on LTE and it’s coming in at a respectable 5 Megabits per second. Those orders of magnitude faster could seriously change the way we use our phones.
“You would be able to do what you’re doing now cheaper and more often,” Rangan explained. “If you watch videos on data, that would burn through your plan. Also new applications, if you have 100x more data maybe you start seeing augmented reality or virtual reality on phones. If you look historically at every time data is improved, it’s hard to tell what applications are going to be adapted to them. I suspect there will be applications enabled by 5G that we can’t imagine right now.”