Wireless at 10Gbps

October 5th, 2008 by · 2 Comments

According to a Technology Review article, researchers have succeeded in sending a 10.6Gbps wireless signal over millimeter wave.  That’s something we’ve only ever seen over fiber of course, with 100Gbps now the target.  So, does fiber have a new competitor? Of course not.  Millimeter wave is from 30-300Ghz, it’s just the high end of microwave (starting with LMDS) and we’ve been using it for a long time for some applications.  Because it has shorter wavelengths you can theoretically fit vast amounts of data on it, yet until lately technology could only manage to get about 1Gbps or a bit more.

So now we may soon be able to fit 10 or even 100 times as much on it, however these frequencies are still only useful for short distances and are heavily impacted by pesky things like humidity and rain and have little penetrating power.  The research itself was done at a few hundred meters.   In other words, campus networks and line-of-sight backhaul links were the main area of usefulness both before and after this theoretical breakthrough.  For these applications, capacity just wasn’t the limiting factor and increasing that capacity just doesn’t matter much right now.  Most backhaul from towers uses a collection of T-1s, 100Mbps is overkill let alone 1Gbps, now we have 10Gbps?  Yippee, now tell me why this improves the economics for deployment.

Let’s face it, if you need 10Gbps then you almost certainly have an economic case to lay fiber over the few hundred meters or perhaps few kilometers.  To me, millimeter wave is much more interesting for its security applications than any application in communications.  Except may be for satellite communications, there it would have much more application.  Get millimeter wave out of the atmosphere, and it might really be something.

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Categories: Wireless

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2 Comments So Far

  • Wireless And Fiber says:

    Microwave links certainly have their place in the world. As 3G and 4G networks become ubiquitous, most backhaul to the cellular towers will be OC-12 and gigabit point to point radios. There is a certain push to pull fiber to cell towers, but it simply isn’t practical outside of metropolitan areas.

  • Eamonn says:

    10Gbs! Now that’s a bandwidth I can live with! I’m sure if, theoretically, it could be rolled out, you would have more scope for some interesting applications.

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