Movandi takes 5G mmWave repeaters for a ride, hits 2.7 Gbps on Verizon’s network

Movandi took its mmWave 5G repeater tech for a test drive on a dense busy street in California, maintaining a solid connection to Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband macro network in a moving vehicle and achieving peak speeds of 2.7 Gbps.

The strong connection while moving is notable particularly as millimeter wave signals are somewhat notorious for poor penetration (getting through things like walls or glass) and short signal reach.

Irvine-based Movandi is one of the companies Verizon tapped to help extend its 5G mmWave network coverage, as well as Pivotal Commware.

For the test drive, Movandi BeamXR indoor repeater prototypes were placed behind the windshield and back window in a car driving up to 28 mph over a 3-mile route along DeAnza Boulevard in Cupertino. The test compared 5G mmWave performance in the 28 GHz band on smartphones (Samsung Galaxy S21 and Apple iPhone 12) in the car both with and without repeaters.  

RELATED: Startup Movandi scores more funding to boost mmWave 5G

Mobile Experts’ founder Joe Madden went along for the ride and saw significant improvement when repeaters were at play to provide continuous coverage with outdoor 5G base stations.

During the drive, the vehicle passed six gNodeBs and 24 switching points handing off signals.

In a video of the test drive, he noted that when repeaters were turned off, coverage was inconsistent and changed depending on where the smartphone was held in relation to windows. Downlink speeds varied between 86 to 177 Mbps without repeaters (averaging 114 Mbps), and a link couldn’t be maintained for more than 5 seconds.

With repeaters turned on, the test hit multi-gigabit peak speeds at a range of 250-meters from the nearest base station and average downlink speeds of 1.6 Gbps (regardless of where the smartphone was positioned) at a range of about 150 meters from the gNodeB.  Low-end speeds using the Movandi repeater still managed 300 Mbps in a car driving 25 mph and at a distance of 160 meters from an outdoor cell site.

RELATED: Verizon taps Movandi for mmWave know-how

The 5G connection was also consistent enough to support HD video performance using Verizon’s Blue Jeans video conference, as well as Zoom and Webex, without glitches or interruptions.

“Mobile vehicles including trains, buses and cars represent an important use case for millions of users worldwide,” Madden said in the announcement. “In the mmWave spectrum, the auto glass and metal cage present difficult connectivity and penetration challenges. This test drive demonstrated the need and ability of vehicle based smart repeaters powered by cloud intelligence to solve these challenges cost-effectively.”

Madden in the video also said it’s important for the industry to start offloading data onto millimeter wave networks because of capacity constraints below 6 GHz.

“So it’s extremely important to get a substantial portion of our outdoor traffic onto the millimeter wave bands,” Madden said.

RELATED: Best way to deploy 5G mmWave? Use repeater tech, says Mobile Experts

Part of the intelligence of these smart repeaters involves continuous monitoring and sending of GPS location, speed, environmental conditions, gNodeB signal quality, among others that goes to Movandi’s BeamX cloud in real-time and dynamically sends instructions to the vehicle about which is the best base station signal to use.

The prototype device used in the test would be too large to install in a car, Movandi noted. But since the company makes its own in-house hardware, the start-up said it can significantly reduce the size to where repeaters could be built into vehicles down the line “potentially making them standard features once wireless carriers have further deployed their mmWave networks.”

In May, Movandi demoed 5G repeater tech in-vehicle, reaching average throughput of 1.5 Gbps in San Jose.