Ericsson tests W-band for 5G, 6G backhaul

In a joint field trial involving Ericsson, Greek operator Cosmote and Deutsche Telekom’s Mobile Backhaul Service Center, engineers determined that frequency bands beyond 100 GHz, such as W-band, are just as good for wireless backhaul as the E-band, which is 70/80 GHz.

The trial at Cosmote headquarters in Athens, Greece, used pre-commercial equipment to demonstrate a W-band (92-114 GHz) wireless hop over a 1.5 km range. The hop was installed parallel with a 1.5 km E-band hop to show that the W-band has a similar performance to E-band. Speeds of 5.7 Gbps were recorded over the 1.5 km distance, topping 10 Gbps over 1 km hops.

“The result proved that W-band (92GHz -114GHz) can perform on the same level as the E-band (70/80GHz), which is currently the only frequency band supporting 10 Gbps wireless backhaul capacities for 4G and 5G,” Ericsson stated in a press release. “The W-band is expected to add more untapped spectrum needed for high-capacity wireless transport.”

In a statement, Konstantinos Chalkiotis, vice president 5G Solutions, Access & Home Networks at Deutsche Telekom, said the demonstration with Ericsson confirms the feasibility of using higher frequency bands with wider channels as another solution in their portfolio. “We hope soon to see those solutions brought into real production in a cost-efficient manner,” Chalkiotis said.

Ericsson has been researching technology for high-capacity radios above the 70/80GHz band for more than a decade. The Swedish vendor said the trials proved the viability of the higher 100 GHz and above frequency bands for multi-gigabit wireless backhaul for 5G and 6G.

RELATED: Marek’s Take: Terahertz spectrum will pave the way to 6G

In the U.S., the FCC recognized the potential for the higher bands, called the terahertz (THz) bands, a few years ago and issued a Spectrum Horizons Report and Order to create a new category of experimental licenses to use frequencies between 95 GHz and 3 THz.

Meanwhile, Ericsson and Nokia are part of the 5G Wireless Backhaul Advocates group that has been trying to get the FCC to allow smaller, lighter antennas for 5G wireless backhaul in the 70/80 GHz band through what they describe as modest rule changes. In fact, the group recently expressed frustration that a separate proposal before the commission may be holding up their longstanding request, which has been pending since 2012.

The advocates for the 70/80 GHz rule changes said they see high demand in the U.S. for the smaller and lighter antennas, which have been available in Europe and other geographies for nearly a decade.