Industry Specification Group (ISG) on Millimetre Wave Transmission (mWT) Activity Report 2021

Chair: Renato Lombardi, Huawei Technologies, UK

Facilitating the use of microwave and millimetre-wave spectrum bands for large volume backhaul and fronthaul applications to support mobile network implementation, wireless local loop and other services that benefit from high speed wireless transmission.

Widescale deployment of 4G/5G – and the number of connections required for massive machine-type communications in the Internet of Things – are making unprecedented demands on radio access networks and backhauling.

Spectrum in the traditional microwave (6-42 GHz) and millimetre-wave (50-300 GHz and above) ranges offers enormous amounts of under-utilized bandwidth, providing more spectrum for radio transmission than lower bands with a wider channel bandwidth and fibre-like capacity. These frequencies are a major enabler for the evolution of mobile communications, including 5G and machine-type communications on a massive scale in the IoT that will make unprecedented demands on radio access networks and backhauling.

The increase in capacity needed for 5G backhaul, and the importance of microwave/millimetre wave as a backhaul medium, demand innovative ways to harness the use of spectrum for fixed services. As mobile networks evolve from 4G to 5G, a key challenge is providing increased capacity, with a consequent need for more spectrum and its more efficient use.

Our Industry Specification Group on millimetre Wave Transmission (ISG mWT) provides a platform for all stakeholders in the microwave and millimetre-wave value chain to exchange technical information and increase the confidence of operators worldwide in the use of microwave and millimetre-waves.

The group’s work aims to remove bottlenecks in releasing new spectrum, and to change spectrum licensing rules to make microwave and millimetre-wave wireless backhaul practical in the medium/long term for 5G operators. 

In parallel, the group continues to explore how current mWT technology and its evolution can satisfy future applications – such as 5G and Fixed Wireless Access services in the timeframe beyond 2020. This considers new mobile and fixed access requirements in terms of topologies, data rates, latency, and range.

ISG mWT publications continue to draw the attention of the global telecoms industry, and are widely used as reference by other industry organizations and standardization bodies.

In 2021 ISG mWT published two Group Reports promoting the use of microwave and millimetre-wave bands.

GR mWT 022 offers an analysis of spectrum, license schemes and network scenarios in the RF bands above 174,8 GHz. The report also tracks expected industry trends and activities while documenting current industry needs and opinions.

GR mWT 025 provides a detailed description of use cases under a ‘close-to-implementation’ approach for wireless backhaul networks. Its analysis focuses on functionalities related to network and service automation of a variety of YANG (Yet Another Next Generation) data models to be implemented on a dedicated SDN southbound interface.

Work meanwhile progressed on four new Group Reports:

  • The definition of a wireless transport profile for standard SDN northbound interfaces. This profile will not only recommend which models to use from the library available from IETF, but also the selection of YANG sub-trees within such models that are necessary to manage microwave and millimetre-wave networks.

  • Review of a coexistence study between FS (Fixed Service) and other services.

  • An analysis of the use of innovative antenna systems (integral and separated TX/RX antennas) in millimetre wave radio links, and their impacts on standards and regulation.

  • The definition of new KPI’s for planning microwave and millimetre-wave backhaul networks, taking into account the evolution of wireless backhaul technologies and more challenging requirements including 5G deployments.

During the year ISG mWT has continued its regular liaison with ETSI ATTM TM4 on antenna and equipment, in particular for systems operating in the so-called D-Band frequency range (130-174,8 GHz) and W-band frequency range (92−114,25 GHz).

Relevant activities within CEPT ECC (WG SE, SE19, SE21, SE40), ITU-R WP5C and GSMA continued to be monitored.

ISG mWT has actively participated in several conference. Among the most significant of these have been spectrum-related presentations on the group’s activities at the 7th Asia Pacific (May) and 6th Sub-Sahara (July) Spectrum Management Conferences, held as virtual events.

During 2021 attendance and participation in ISG mWT activities has continued to increase, attracting the involvement of approximately thirty companies (members and participants).