The mmwave Deployment Plan

Here’s the deal, most people don’t get the mmwave rollout plan. It’s going to be different from the traditional mobile carrier plan. However, you can compare it to a power Wi-Fi rollout plan.

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I read a blog post from T-Mobile’s Neville Ray about the comparison between mmwave and 600MHz. I read about the opinion article by the brilliant Ernest Worthman, AGL Magazine. All links are below.

FYI –  I didn’t write this to defend Verizon or AT&T but to educate you the best I can. When I read this article, I couldn’t believe how stupid this smart guy, Neville, sounded. So I had to put this together.

The thing is, I know that Neville is attacking Verizon and their plan to roll out mmwave first. I get it. I also get that 5G will be spotty at first. Welcome to wireless. How quickly we all forget how long it took us to roll out LTE when 3G was the standard. Even today, many of us see out phones revert to 3G or 1xRTT and start to flip out. While this is great marketing to the ignorant masses, to the telecom world it’s comical. We all know there is a massive difference between mmwave and low-band and mid-band spectrums. The mmwave is going to serve a different purpose like a fixed wireless solution that could include mobile.

So in the words of the great John Wayne, I would say the “It’s getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous” to make a mobile to mobile comparison. ( You have to love John Wayne, at least at my age, right?

Hey, I am not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I know to roll out 5G in any spectrum will take time. I also know that each spectrum band, in today’s world, will have a specific purpose. You see, I work in the wireless industry, so I get it.

The great thing about new networks is that each part of the network and spectrum should serve a specific purpose. We all know that mmwave will be for massive broadband for users that are in the cells umbrella of coverage. It could be for fixed wireless access, (FWA), or a mobile user that is in that coverage. So, mmwave will not be the mobile solution like 600MHz to 5GHz.

The 5G evolution is going to take time to deploy. It will happen faster than any of us think, covering urban areas in less than 18 months. When I say covering, this will be 600MHz, 2.5GHz, and mmwave, maybe more. In wireless deployment time, 18 months is incredible. That’s why so many wireless telecom workers are busy today.

But the systems are going to be different. They are not all the same and the bands because of the serve different purposes. The models will have to change.

Spectrum slicing is going to become more and more important as 5G matures. We all know about network slicing. I can tell you personally that all the network slicing models and demos I have seen were impressive. The network improved exponentially. However, it still can be overloaded and broken. That means there’s more work to do.

We have a lot of spectrum out there. We have to respect older technologies if there are still users on them. There may still be devices on 2G, I hope not but there could be and that may force the carriers to keep that system live for longer than they wanted to.

What about 3G, yup, many of those sites are still out there. Some carriers rely on 3G for voice because they didn’t invest in VoLTE.

Now, they just complete the 4G builds, almost completely nationwide but if you go to the rural areas I would bet you see your smartphone pop up in 3G. That sucks, doesn’t it? The point is, it’s not a 4G blanket across the continental US, there are still pockets of legacy networks.

Now, with the release of mmwave spectrum and larger carriers, like 50MHz and 100MHz of contiguous TDD spectrum, we can fulfill the 5G requirement of massive broadband. Even if it’s in an urban area where people gather. I would like to think this will be the DAS spectrum of choice for the next Superbowl!

Something to think about, LTE used carrier aggregation to make you think the carrier was large. With 5G, it can handle large carriers, like 100MHz, as one carrier. That means that, hypothetically, the latency should drop.

So when reading that mmwave doesn’t cover like the spectrum in mid-band and low-band, keep in mind it’s not being deployed for that purpose. Each band will serve a specific purpose.

Now, you’re educated, at least on this point. I hope it helps. Go teach someone!

How will mmwave roll out?

The way I see it, mmwave will start at the macro sites in urban areas. That is the plan. They would start with the macro sites because they have massive backhaul there.

Also, once the macro sites have a decent mmwave presence the signal can serve multiple purposes.

  • It can serve the FWA customer who wants broadband at home.
  • They can serve mobile hotspots.
  • They can also provide UE backhaul to the other small cells and hot spots around a given area.

The idea is to get the biggest bang for your buck. If mmwave can serve as a fiber extension, why not use it for backhaul? It makes sense.

Then the small cell deployment will happen. Mmwave will be everywhere, maybe not as a true small cell but more a CRAN so that a fully functional macro sector is deployed in any given area for max throughput and user loading.

Then the indoor build begins. This is a new business where mmwave could be used by companies that want enterprise 5G inside and it would be connected to a carrier’s network. The enterprise of a larger company would install it themselves and provide backhaul that would let the indoor mmwave small cells connect to the carrier’s core. It would be a mini MVNO.

If the carriers would allow it, they could lease the spectrum out so that a smaller business can create a small cell as a service system. Then they can get the deployment out there with minimal investment.

When you look at it, mmwave offers a lot of solutions for the carriers. Just like CBRS is going to open up new doors. If the carriers can get out-of-the-way and allow new business models to happen, then we will see great innovation that is user-directed, not corporation directed.

Innovation is the key!



Thank you for your time to learn something new! Let’s use it today.

Be smart, be safe, and pay attention!

See Ya!

I appreciate all of your support. Thank you so much!



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