Intel Hears 1Gbit Cell Nets in High Frequencies

Intel is betting there is more than 1Gbit/sec in 60MHz post-5G cell nets.

The Intel engineer who was a driving force behind the development of gigabit WiFi is pushing changes that could bring a similar boost to cellular networks.

Intel wireless-standards researchers are working on demonstration versions of cellular base stations designed to push cell-network bandwidth above one gigabit per second at distances of more than 200 meters, according to a Jan. 10 story in EETimes.

The effort is one of several Intel is working on that push WiFi and other wireless networking links into much higher frequencies than those in use now, according to EETimes, which based its story on interviews with Ali Sadri, senior director of millimeter-wave standards in Intel’s Mobile and Wireless group.

Sadri helped lead the development of the WiGig standard for 1Gbit/sec wireless LAN networks, which was developed into the IEEE 802.11ad standard. The standard, which was approved Jan. 8, is backward-compatible with traditional 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, but can only ramp up to its top theoretical speed of 7Gbit/set on 60GHz, the frequency Sadri champions for high-speed in both WiFi and cellular networks.

The higher bandwidth lets new gear avoid congestion from existing hardware, offers more bandwidth of its own and allows for higher-level functions such as beam shaping that make connections between WLAN devices more efficient, according to a statement from IEEE announcing finalization of the standard.

Sadri’s group is researching cell nets running at both 28GHz and 39GHz, but is focused on 60GHz as the frequency most likely to work as a backhaul link connecting cell towers to small-cell base stations in homes and offices. Small-cell base stations currently connect to the Internet using an Ethernet cord, and function like any WiFi router except that they work on cellular network frequencies to give end users or small offices connectivity equivalent to having a cell-network tower in the office.

Higher frequencies offer greater bandwidth and faster speeds, but are harder to work with and haven’t been completely accepted by either government regulators or other vendors in the industry, Sadri told EETimes.

There is likely to be a lot of negotiating among industry players over the three frequencies in play for small-cell backhaul, which is likely to keep millimeter networks from being deployed commercially until late in the decade.

Sadri’s group will try to prove a few of its points about performance with a demo version of a 60MHz base station Sadri plans to being to the Mobile World Congress conference Feb. 24-27 in Barcelona.

Millimeter-nets will give cellular a big performance boost, but not nearly as big a leap as WiFi got from 802.11ad, which is more than ten times as powerful as the earlier 802.11n, he said.