Rappaport test rangeTed Rappaport of NYU, the world's foremost mmWave researcher, disagrees with my guess that mmWave 5G will be modest until 2021-2023. My opinion is backed up by opinions from several carriers and an estimate from Ovum that fewer than 1% of lines will be millimeter wave in 2021. Ted's opinion is shared by Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam, who will deploy in Boston and probably San Francisco as soon as Verizon can get the equipment. That should be late 2017 or early 2018. Nokia and Ericsson have hundreds of engineers working on 5G mmWave.

 I will be delighted to be proven wrong and see more rapid progress. Since my comment, Rappaport and team have published a seminal paper, Millimeter Wave Wireless Communications: New Results for Rural Connectivity (Abstract below.) They were able to detect a 73 GHz signal 11 kilometers away from their transmitter, a carefully aligned antenna 110 meters above average terrain. (Pictured.) They used 1 watt of transmitter power, levels similar to today's mobile phones.

Ted believes, "to a first approximation, the range won't be different in clear weather for mmwave versus today's cellular as long as the physical size of antennas are the same at both frequencies." On a clear day, with line of sight, it's clearly possible to measure millimeter waves far beyond the 100-300 meters most urban deployments expect. I had a chance to discuss Ted's paper with NTT engineers, who were impressed.

Ted is a world-class engineer; I'm a tech reporter who sounds smart because I listen to people like Ted. I'm obviously not qualified to judge which excellent engineers have this one right. Here's Ted's note:

 Many people continue to propagate the incorrect myth that mmwave is severely limited in distance. This is not accurate. The fact is that the distances at mmwave will only be limited by rain and fog, not by the nature of mmwave. This is because the "lossiness" of mmwave, compared to lower frequencies, only occurs in the first meter of propagating distance, but this "higher loss" is cancelled out by keeping the antennas the same physical size at all frequencies.

While building penetration is tougher with mmwave, that is actually an advantage for interference protection, and the use of multiple steerable antenna arrays at the base station will enable larger distances than a couple of hundred meters in system deployments. Coverage distances are not fundamentally different at mmwave than at any other frequency when proper antennas are used (e.g. When bass stations use larger gain antennas to make up for the increased path loss in the first meter).
 
And the demand for consumer capacity will make 5 G come sooner by a couple of years than what Dave is thinking, I believe.
 

ABSTRACT Millimeter Wave Wireless Communications: New Results for Rural Connectivity [Editor's note: most of the article is about the model, not the testing.]

This paper shows the remarkable distances that can be achieved using millimeter wave communications, and presents a new rural macrocell (RMa) path loss model for millimeter wave frequencies, based on measurements at 73 GHz in rural Virginia. Path loss models are needed to es- timate signal coverage and interference for wireless network design, yet little is known about rural propagation at millime- ter waves. This work identifies problems with the RMa model used by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) TR 38.900 Release 14, and offers a close-in (CI) reference distance model that has improved accuracy, fewer parameters, and better stability as compared with the existing 3GPP RMa path loss model. The measurements and models presented here are the first to validate rural millimeter wave path loss models. 

dave askJuly 2017 Gigabit LTE is real in 2017. So is 5G Massive MIMO. 5G mmWave to fixed antennas is likely 2018, with mobile to follow. China, Japan, Korea, and Verizon U.S. have planned $500B for "5G," with heavy investment expected 2019-2021. 

Being a reporter is a great job for a geek. I'm not an engineer but I've learned from some of the best, including the primary inventors of DSL, cable modems, MIMO, Massive MIMO, and now 5G mmWave. Since 1999, I've done my best to get closer to the truth about broadband.

Wireless One - W1 replaces 5gwnews.com in July 2017. Send questions and news to Dave Burstein, Editor.