OK, first of all, this is in no way a report to say that 5G mmwave will replace Wi-Fi. I do think that 5G NR-U will offer new value, but this report specifically is about 5G mmwave in the enterprise and an add on to Wi-Fi. They will work together and it serves a specific purpose.
I mention this because after reading Dean Bubley’s post about 5G replacing Wi-Fi that the Wi-Fi associations must be making it clear that I expect indoor mmwave to work with Wi-Fi. I think you need both for a solid solution.
However, I believe that mmwave 5G is amazing because it has so much clean spectrum. The throughput and latency are just amazing. Licensed is so clean.
I also think that the FCC will never release enough spectrum to anyone outside of a carrier that private 5G has to be done with them or in unlicensed.
This report is specifically about 5G mmwave Enterprise Solutions!
Dean’s post found at https://disruptivewireless.blogspot.com/2019/05/5g-as-enterprise-lan-wi-fi-replacement.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FECBFT+%28Dean+Bubley%27s+Disruptive+Wireless%29
So what am I trying to say with this post? That it’s time to think beyond a normal connection. Honestly, do we really want to continue as we always have? We finally have a chance at gigabit speeds wirelessly indoors. If you think it’s time we step up up indoor connectivity, this is a way to get there.
The limitations were spectrum and technology, maybe the network. Now, we’re going beyond past expectations.
With mmwave, we have the spectrum, the bandwidth, and technology to make this happen. It’s finally a solution that we can use and it’s going to work indoors.
The high-level end to end guide to indoor 5G mmwave usage.
The 5G Enterprise business should be taking off in 2021. It’s going to be private 5G.
This is a model that was envisioned for private LTE systems, but they never got going.
The new business models are relying on the network for everything. Businesses in every aspect and every industry. They all rely on a solid network and constant connectivity. Does it make sense to rely on Wi-Fi and wired connections?
These days we need to have our offices complete fluid. They may have flex workspace, constant meetings, moving workers, changing roles, and other needs in the small, medium, and larger enterprise business models. How do they design the networks?
I think that mmwave will allow the workers to have gigabit connectivity without worrying if there is a wired connection or if the Wi-Fi access point is overloaded. The network can be designed to have the mmwave and Wi-Fi work together but the key to higher speeds and lower latency will be the 5G connection in the mmwave spectrum.
Now we’re cooking with gas!
We have a key component to making the networks take a leap from OK to exceptional.
But wait, the only mmwave spectrum is licensed by the carriers! Exactly, so here is an opportunity for the carriers to lock in enterprise customers.
What about outdoor in coverage? I think we all saw that T-Mobile said it doesn’t cover well from outdoors to indoors, here is why it is a great spectrum for enterprise indoor coverage.
Why do we need mmwave 5G indoor coverage? You only need it if you want wireless gigabit low latency connections.
If we have one carrier’s spectrum, it won’t be carrier agnostic! Exactly, a carrier could lease the spectrum and then you would have to show loyalty to that carrier. You would need devices with the spectrum of that carrier. You would need to stick with that carrier for high-speed low latency in your office. The carrier has a locked in customer and you have a locked in the spectrum for your use. You don’t need every carrier in your space.
But the carriers would never give up their spectrum in an enterprise! If they don’t have models for leasing and allowing the edge to offload, then they are missing a serious vertical market. Why wouldn’t a carrier want to offer this vertical?
First, let’s look at the elephant in the room.
Why didn’t private LTE take off?
The thing is, the carriers didn’t push it and the unlicensed LTE didn’t get enough of a push.
The carriers were dealing with the “who will pay for DAS and small cells” battle for most of 2017 and 2018. This is a battle they won by not supporting smaller DAS and small cell deployments indoors. They wanted to do the “outside-in coverage models rather than have the indoor coverage solid. It was cheaper.
The other thing was that LTE had a core that would not easily do plug and play, PnP. The carriers know that the small business owner needs to have PnP because they don’t want to spend the time and effort to install these things.
Also, LTE still had limitations that made Wi-Fi the preferred choice, based on cost alone. Wi-Fi served the purpose to satisfy indoor coverage for the best price.
LTE for data and voice was not cost effective for the carriers and there was only unlicensed spectrum available for the carriers.
Now, for LTE-M, this was a different story. The problem there was again, spectrum, and equipment availability. IOT has so many options that LTE-M seems like a high end and expensive solution. There are other tried and true systems, what would set LTE-M apart?
There is a need for indoor LTE, it has so many features that were never used for the smaller operators.
For Voice and Data, I think that Sprint’s Magic Box was a great way to get coverage indoors. It kept people on their network. They didn’t need to rely on Wi-Fi for calls or data. LTE works well when you have solid indoor coverage.
Now, LTE has a new competitor, 5G.
Most vendors have to make a decision, will they invest in LTE or 5G even though private 5G is at least a year away. The real question is, will private LTE be obsolete in a year? You know, right about the time they have LTE working and functional.
But we have Wi-Fi, isn’t that good enough?
Probably, if you’re just using it to offload data. If you’re going to accept 100Mbps throughput. If you think it’s good enough.
What are the limitations?
- Latency on Wi-Fi has been improving. LTE allows for much better prioritization. 5G is going to lower latency even more.
- Mobility on Wi-Fi has been an issue, it has issues handing off between mobile and private networks. LTE has improved that greatly by having the same technology on both networks that seamlessly hands off. 5G will be smoother and integrate better than ever. Mobility will improve even more.
- Capacity is another place where Wi-Fi has been limited. If the FCC releases the 6 GHz spectrum to unlicensed, will people use Wi-Fi or LTE-U or 5G NR-U? IF they use mmwave then mmwave would be the choice because you have dedicated spectrum for a specific use that is spectrally efficient and capacity grows exponentially.
- Security will be better on LTE and 5G licensed compared to Wi-Fi because of the infrastructure and spectrum. If we can get on the licensed or lightly licensed spectrum, the hacker still has an additional layer of protection because it will be harder to get something on the licensed spectrum open to that particular network.
Why do indoor private 5G systems make more sense?
The idea that LTE-M and LTE-U never got off the ground is not surprising when you think about the limitations. The spectrum wasn’t there, the OEMs took forever to get to market, the standards were not ready.
Now, with 5G, you have new options. You have supplementary spectrum. You have new ways to do things.
LTE-M may finally take off, it makes sense for many indoor activities of the spectrum is there.
Now, 5G is going to have lower latency, probably 5ms round trip in the real world, and speeds in the Gbps range. It also will have mmwave spectrum. That is the most exciting thing, mmwave spectrum that does not penetrate walls, In the old days, this was a bad thing, today, it is a good thing. We no longer will rely on outside-in coverage. The key now is to have solid indoor mmwave systems that the enterprise can use. Systems that are PnP. This is a new model and a new revenue stream for carriers.
I would love to see the FCC come out with 500 MHz of mmwave that would be lightly licensed, but I would bet they won’t do that as long as the carriers have their attention. I would love to see more than the 60 GHz spectrum be used for indoor mmwave coverage.
What I think is a viable option for the carriers is to have private 5G systems with their spectrum indoors.
How would the Carrier offer dedicated indoor mmwave spectrum?
This is the question everyone would ask. While we would all like it to be a shared spectrum or lightly licensed, that probably won’t happen. Look how long it took the FCC to release CBRS! Look how long it takes the FCC to allocate any spectrum, 3 or more years. Hell, we’ll be on 7G by that time.
We could rely on 60 GHz indoor, maybe that would work, but I see more efficiencies in the 24, 28, and 39 GHz spectrums. Especially when you tie in 5G indoor cells.
The carriers could do a few things.
- I think that if they could lease the indoor spectrum, this would be the easiest thing to do. Just lease it and provide a monthly or annual fee for the spectrum with a 5 or 10-year commitment. It makes sense and then has the end user build their own network inside with approved carrier equipment. The end user could supply the small cells, the wiring, the network design, and offload as they see fit. To me this makes sense.
- The monthly fee for service. Here is the model that the carriers will try. They will try to limit data and charge tariffs for the service. While this will be the first choice, it will be a disaster and I’ll tell you why. The customer wants to keep internal data internal, it’s none of the carrier’s business, just like your home Wi-Fi data, that’s yours and they should not charge for it. Who will pay for the equipment, the install, the wiring, the network design? Do you really want the carrier on your network? Does the carrier really want to design thousands of small enterprise networks? No and no!
- They would lease the spectrum and offer monthly service for data that goes through their core. I see it as double sipping, but this is another likely model. Let the enterprise build their system, offload, and then whatever comes back to the carrier is fair game for tariffs. The carrier can charge a base fee for the spectrum usage indoors.
The carrier could also provide devices like laptops and workstations, maybe a line of IOT devices for the offices Look at all the accessories they offer now. I don’t know how that would go with the larger enterprise, but they could have a line of equipment on their spectrum that could be used in the office or mobile.
I am not talking about smartphones here, but they could be part of the model. It all adds up.
The revenue for the carriers is on the service, if they add devices, then they have to manage a store that offers devices that the end user wants and needs.
There is your model. You are welcome.
Private 5G System Models
The idea that a carrier would lease its mmwave spectrum to be put inside a building makes a lot of sense. They could offer to sell the equipment, or go through a distributor, to let the customer buy the equipment themselves.
Large distributors are already doing this with indoor small cells, take a look at the SpiderCloud (just purchased by Corning) model. They built their entire business around enterprise small cells on a carrier’s network.
Now, with CBRS, Ruckus (recently purchased by CommScope) will be in the small cell game and working with the carriers.
I love the CBRS lightly licensed model where the spectrum can be used anywhere by anyone. They need to sense for radar, sign in with SAS, and then you have a LTE system up and running. Sure, you need a core, backhaul, RAN, and everything it takes to make a system work.
Now, with 5G, there is an optimal solution to use mmwave for the enterprise and for indoor equipment control.
How will this work?
- The carriers could lease the spectrum to the enterprise, manufacturer, end user, etc.
- The enterprise can do all the inside work, very similar to what they do today for:
- Small cells
- Public Safety DAS
- LAN connectivity.
- The end user could install the equipment, which would connect to their data center or core.
- The equipment will have to be connected internally to the router, then, with a simple setup, the end user would have to enter the internal data, like the specific location of the small cell, inside IP router, DNS, etc.
- Then, the carrier’s PnP should kick in and accept the information automatically.
- The inside data can be offloaded in the enterprise EDGE, taking the load away from the carrier.
- The rest of the data can go to the carrier.
- The carrier could offer a flat fee or a data tariff, not sure what the model will be. I think a flat annual fee for the spectrum makes sense.
- The PnP could work similarly to SAS so the carrier knows exactly what equipment the enterprise has, where each unit’s location, and can route e911 properly.
- When voice on 5G is available, that can all be routed to the carrier.
Why not neutral host?
Everyone is going to say when they read this, “It has to be carrier agnostic” or “it has to be an open system”.
You know what, no it doesn’t! Why do you need all the carriers if the business supplies the employee’s coverage? I am not talking about a public DAS here, I am talking about a specific enterprise or factory. Its use would be specific to the customer.
Everyone thinks it has to be neutral host. If it’s an enterprise, it does NOT have to be neutral host. In fact, if the carrier is going to lease spectrum, it doesn’t make sense. My point here is that most enterprise, large financial firms, go with one carrier and pay for the service.
Honestly, if I were a carrier I would try to lock every enterprise into my system.
This is something a carrier should offer its customers to keep its customers. This would be a win for the carrier because they could lock in an entire company on their network. It would be a win-win for the enterprise because they will have amazing mmwave service inside the building.
Why does mmwave make sense?
Now that 5G is a reality and mmwave has been released, it’s time to put it to use.
Offices rely heavily on Wi-Fi, but with 5G offering Gbps speeds and low latency, it makes sense to use it more indoors.
Everyone that I talked to gets worried about the walls. Just like Wi-Fi, you want to have a small cell in every room. Most offices have cubicles which are, (surprise) open at the top. So you could have an array of mmwave small cells overhead to cover the office space, you know, just like Wi-Fi!
Also, you can run both Wi-Fi and mmwave together, so where the people don’t do as much work, you could have a Wi-Fi only zone.
Now, for the kicker, if you don’t want to run CAT 5 to every cubicle, then mmwave makes even more sense. You will have higher speeds and all you have to do is move a workstation, laptop, or tablet with 5G to that space.
Security on mmwave is much better than a Wi-Fi system. To have 5G the first thing people would need os to get on your 5G spectrum, then hack the secure carrier’s network. Not so easy. It adds a new level of complexity for the hacker.
I think that now many offices are relying on Wi-fi for their network connections. This works well, but there are still issues with it. Flex spaces are great when they are empty, but when you have a lot of people, it still gets loaded and slow. It creates problems. While this can be overcome, it’s not always clean.
If you have mmwave, then the throughput of a massive MIMO antenna would make so much more sense. It’s a better way to build your network.
How would you plan for an indoor mmwave system?
While no OEM has a clear roadmap for indoor mmwave small cells or DAS systems, I am sure that it would be more expensive to install. I believe you will need fiber to every small cell. It may work with CAT6, but I don’t know if it’s the best model if you want fiber Gbps speeds. I see you running fiber to the radio heads.
Power is still an issue. You need power and if you run fiber everywhere, how will you get power? I would think that either an AC outlet would work, in the ceiling, or you would need to run a hybrid cable with fiber and power. This would be low power, like 24 or 48 VDC. Permitting and codes may get in the way of this, but PoE is readily accepted in most networks.
I am thinking a small cable with CAT6 for power and 4 to 6 strands of fiber.
I know its coming. I can’t wait!
Don’t forget about the EDGE. The local data center would need to be the edge so that all local in-house traffic is offloaded and stays in the network or routes where it’s supposed to go if it doesn’t belong on the carrier’s outside network.
There will be plenty of servers monitoring the indoor traffic, so the data center would technically be the EDGE for the network before it goes any further.
This means more equipment in the data center.
Don’t forget the network design. We will all expect network slicing to be everywhere very soon. So you need to plan for it. It has to be part of the overall design.
Network planning is key!
For the enterprise to be a success, they need to plan the network from end to end. When we have indoor mmwave, it solves a lot of connectivity problems, but if the network remains the same, it won’t matter.
Many companies added Wi-Fi after the fact, they simply added a connection to a switch, hub, router, or whatever for the Wi-Fi connection. If they intend to replace all connections with a wireless mmwave connection, then they need to make sure the network is planned properly, end to end.
This means that the EDGE has to be taken into consideration. While the mmwave can connect back to the carrier, you don’t want internal data leaving the building. You don’t want internet data going out to the carrier then back.
You need to have network slicing planned out. SDN and NFV will be key factors. What network will IOT be on? What network will highly sensitive data be on? What needs very low latency? What needs extreme broadband? What will carry voice?
Plan ahead. Overhaul the network if you have to. Then, make sure the infrastructure is there to support it. You will need fiber to the mmwave small cells to get the Gigabit throughput.
Make a plan that makes sense for your users.
When will this happen?
In the near future, perhaps late 2020, I see 5G being a fiber replacement in offices. I see offices relying on indoor mmwave to connect all important and secure systems. Then I see only the traffic to be routed back to the carrier going to the carrier, not all the traffic.
The servers in the enterprise will handle most of the traffic, maybe 85%, but the rest will go out to the carrier.
The carrier gets to keep its customers happy at work with reliable coverage and their devices become invaluable.
The laptops can be 5G ready and secure. They will work anywhere the carrier has mmwave coverage, not just the office.
The smartphones and tablets are going to remain on the carriers network wherever they go.
All the carriers need to come up with a working model like this to build loyalty.
What other solutions does indoor 5G have?
I think we will see 5G NR-U, 5G in the unlicensed bands. I would think the Wi-Fi associations will push back, they will be worried about interference, which is interesting because it’s unlicensed. Unlicensed is generally not licensed and prone to interference. It’s unlicensed.
However, if the FCC opens up 6 Ghz spectrum for 5G NR-U, then we could see 5G deployed everywhere and quickly. If they made it 5G only spectrum, it would be a game changer. However, the FCC didn’t release it yet and for them to make a decision, it will take over 3 years.
It solves a lot of problems that we deal with today. We all know that 5G has massive broadband, in fact, that is our immediate expectation.
It will also have URLL, Ultra Reliable Low Latency, where the latency should be 1 ms round trip over the wireless system. This is still being worked, but it adds perspective for automated manufacturing that may want to control things real time. No more delays.
Then there are the massive machine communications. You know, IOT on steroids. This could be a gamechanger. Especially if it can be done with spectrum slicing so that mmwave can solve all the problems. I am hoping it will have less interference from common problems facing machines today.