The transition to 5G mobile is coming, driven by demand for higher-rate broadband at gigabits per second. Such bandwidth is made possible via new radio spectrum at 24 GHz and above, known as millimeter wave (mmWave) because its wavelengths are shorter than existing mobile radio at 6 GHz and below.
While opening much wider bands, this new spectrum is also more attenuated by the atmosphere and other objects. To overcome this attenuation, the propagated power can be aimed directly at each user with beamforming, electronically controlling an array of radios to focus energy only where it’s useful.
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Animation shows how phased arrays of antennas can steer beams to direct energy towards each user.
Image courtesy of Professor Ali Niknejad, PhD
UC Berkeley Wireless Research Center