Mobile network operators like Verizon introduced 5G initially utilizing millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum technology. mmWave does not perform in the same way as traditional cellular frequencies and this presents operators with new challenges to overcome: poor propagation characteristics, limited spectrum and line-of-sight requirements – all the more so when utilized for indoor connectivity.
Most of the current use of mmWave spectrum is in dense outdoor urban areas – like Chicago and Minneapolis where Verizon first launched its 5G networks. Indoor broadband is dominated by WiFi use, while outdoor mobile broadband is largely carried over cellular networks and yet mmWave is being talked up as having potential in indoor spaces. Initially this sounds counter-intuitive but is there more in this than there appears? This research note considers the demand for indoor mmWave and what sort of services does it could offer. How will it compete with or complement WiFi and/or cellular and what challenges remain?
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