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Freaked out by 5G? Microwave’s got your back!

In a way, new technology can sometimes make us feel worried. The introduction of every new generation of mobile systems (3G, 4G and now 5G), has been the cause of concern for many that microwave backhaul would no longer be able to meet the new demands. But that’s a bit like being afraid of your own shadow.

Freaked out by 5G - blog image
Jonas Edstam 

Portfolio Strategy Management, Business Area Networks

Category, topic & hashtags

Once again, it’s that spooky time of year. The nights are long and there are scary beings out there, lurking in the dark. It’s Halloween! But even if the odd shadow makes us jump, deep down, we know it’s just our imagination playing tricks on us: there’s really nothing to fear.

In a way, with new technology, the pace of change can sometimes make us feel just as worried. The introduction of every new generation of mobile systems (3G, 4G and now 5G) has been the cause of deep concern for many. How on earth could the backhaul bottleneck issue be resolved? But 25 years of experience have taught us that we need not have worried in the slightest. Microwave backhaul has risen to the challenge every time, taking great technological leaps forward and encompassing fresh innovations along the way.

The only thing constant is change – for the better

I have had the privilege of working with microwave backhaul since the mid-1990s. It’s been an amazing journey, from the early use of basic constant envelope modulation to enabling the 16k QAM of today. I remember when 38GHz was a great leap to higher frequencies, whereas the latest frontier is about 150GHz. We’ve seen the E-band technology evolution from the initial 1Gbps, passing the 10Gbps mark a few years ago, to the 100Gbps solutions now already being demonstrated. Microwave backhaul is alive and kicking! And it’s well prepared for network evolution towards 5G and beyond.

Right now, I’m having the time of my life with 5G NR. It’s great fun, being part of making 5G NR come alive, enabling fantastic services to be unleashed with some amazing radio technologies and new high-, mid-, and low-band spectrum. Some of the backhaul frequency bands will increase in use, while others will eventually transition to being used for 5G NR access. It all depends how they can be put to the most valuable use in each country. A personal favorite is the US leading efforts to unleash 5G NR use in high bands, with 4GHz of total bandwidth being released in the 24GHz, 28GHz, 37GHz and 39GHz bands. Way to go!

The wireless siblings microwave backhaul and 5G NR are on the way into infinity and beyond!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Microwave Outlook report out now

The 2019 edition of the Ericsson Microwave Outlook report was released on October 22, featuring statistics and forecasts on microwave industry, insights on future spectrum use, as well as highlights on emerging microwave backhaul innovations.

One interesting insight in the report is how the E-band is being used for much longer hop lengths than when it was first introduced to the market a decade ago. This comes as no real surprise to me, since I started writing about multi-band solutions and how attractive the E-band is several years ago in Ericsson Technology Review. High backhaul capacity is so important in catering for the needs of the radio access network, that service providers are willing to change the way they plan networks and have a more balanced view of their target availability figures. The E-band is simply too good to miss out on using as much as possible! 

Freaked out by 5G? Microwave’s got your back! Ericsson Blog

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Among my other favorites are the amazing efforts made in reaching beyond 100Gbps microwave backhaul, and the results we now see. The ability to crush the 100Gbps barrier with high availability, low latency and high tolerance for non-optimal antenna separations, is a key proof point, illustrating just how well microwave can evolve to fulfill future needs. The combination of wide channels in high frequency bands and MIMO technology can be magical. I’m glad to be part of the ride.

Freaked out by 5G? Microwave’s got your back! Ericsson Blog

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So while you’re waiting forthe trick or treaters to knock at the door, why not check out the report and take comfort in discovering that your 5G transport needs have been well taken care of?

Download the latest Ericsson Microwave Outlook report here

I am also sharing the report insights in a webinar scheduled for November 13th, together with my colleague Hans Mähler. Register here if you’re interested to learn more.

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