There never seems to be enough bandwidth. Yesterday’s 10 megabit and 100 megabit data rates were seen as ample for enterprise, metropolitan and mobile backhaul capacity, but the demand has now evolved to multi-gigabit speeds, and will continue to increase over the coming years. However, there are some places where it is simply too difficult or expensive to provision additional bandwidth using fiber-optic cabling. Broadband wireless radio technology has traditionally filled the gap for some applications, but traditional Wi-Fi solutions based on 2.4 and 5 GHz technologies have now reached bandwidth limitations as well.
Today, enterprises and service providers are increasingly looking at 60 GHz V-Band wireless solutions. They are discovering that for many applications, V-Band wireless connectivity provides attractive benefits based on factors such as license-free operation, high immunity to interference, and easy and cost-effective deployment.
The V-Band (“vee-band”) is a standard designation by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for a band of frequencies in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from 40 to 75 gigahertz (GHz). The V band is not heavily used, except for millimeter wave radar research and other kinds of scientific research. It should not be confused with the 600–1000 MHz range of Band-V (band-five) of the UHF frequency range.
The V-Band is also used for high capacity terrestrial millimeter wave communications systems. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission has allocated the frequency band from 57 to 71 GHz for unlicensed wireless systems. These systems are primarily used for high capacity, short distance (less than 1 mile) communications. In addition, frequencies at 70, 80, and 90 GHz have been allocated as “lightly licensed” bands for multi-gigabit wireless communications. All communications links in the V-Band require unobstructed line of sight between the transmit and receive point, and rain fade must be taken into account when performing link budget analysis.
On Dec. 15, 1995 the V-Band at 60 GHz was used by the world’s first crosslink communication between satellites in a constellation. This communication was between the U.S. Milstar 1 and Milstar 2 military satellites. 60 GHz is attractive for secure satellite crosslinks because it allows for high data rates, narrow beams and, lying in a strong absorption band of oxygen, provides protection against intercept by ground-based adversaries.
Very short range Wi-Fi – The Wi-Fi standard IEEE 802.11ad will utilize the 60 GHz (EHF microwave) spectrum with data transfer rates of up to 7 Gbps for very short ranges of up to 10 metres (33 ft)
Mobile backhaul – As mobile operators need more and more bandwidth, they are turning to new frequency bands to lower their wireless backhaul costs. Both license-exempt V band spectrum (57-71 GHz) and E band spectrum (71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 92-95 GHz) have clear technological and economic advantages. The 27 GHz allocated in these bands allows multi-Gigabit per second capacities far exceeding the 6-38 GHz
Bandwidth-limited frequencies. – In the V band and E band spectrum, wireless systems can utilize the significantly larger allocated spectrum and channels to deliver multi-Gigabit data rates. This enables a simple, robust, and low cost modem and radio design. Thus, V-Band and E-Band, millimeter-wave wireless systems provide significant cost advantages over 6-38 GHz wireless systems – allowing scaling capacity to Gigabit capacities, without additional radio equipment and licensing fees.
Wireless broadband – Internet service providers are looking for ways to expand gigabit high-speed services to their customers. These can be achieved through fiber to the premises broadband network architecture, or a more affordable alternative using fixed wireless in the last mile in combination with the fiber networks in the middle mile in order to reduce the costs of trenching fiber optic cables to the users. In the United States, V band is unlicensed. This makes V band an appealing choice to be used as fixed wireless access for gigabit services to connect to homes and businesses.
Satellite constellations – As of March 2017, several US companies—Boeing, SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat, O3b Networks and Theia Holdings—have each filed with the US regulatory authorities “plans to field constellations of V-band satellites in non-geosynchronous orbits to provide communications services,” an electromagnetic spectrum that had not previously been “heavily employed for commercial communications services.”
License-Free Operation in Worldwide – The 60 GHz V-band wireless frequency is part of the electromagnetic radio spectrum, which includes the AM radio band at 550 kHz to 1.5 MHz and the FM band from 88 MHz to 108 MHz. The available bandwidth of the AM band is only 1 MHz, while the total FM bandwidth is 20 MHz. Other wireless protocols include LTE from 0.7 GHz to 2.6 GHz, and traditional Wi-Fi that uses two bands, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. The amount of Wi-Fi bandwidth available in the U.S. is only 50 MHz at 2.4 GHz and 800 MHz at 5 GHz
At the higher frequencies is the 57 to 71 GHz V-Band range, called the millimeter wave segment. An important distinction between the various frequency allocations is whether users require a license to operate within a specific band (as is the case with AM and FM broadcasters) or whether unlicensed operation is allowed (as is allowed with 60 GHz and traditional Wi-Fi routers). Unlicensed operation still requires that the equipment to be certified for usage by the FCC. However, once such unlicensed products are certified, they can be sold and deployed on a license-free basis.
So, what’s so special about using the 60 GHz V-Band spectrum to deliver wireless high-bandwidth Ethernet? The simple answer is there is no other globally available, unlicensed spectrum that provides 14 GHz of radio bandwidth. This massive spectral bandwidth enables low-cost gigabit data rates. Just like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, 60 GHz V-Band equipment can be deployed as needed without the need for licensing by regulatory agencies. This freedom provides the ability to cost-effectively and rapidly deploy V-Band wireless solutions such as HaulPass V10g for enterprise, campus, ISP, private, and carrier networks.
High Immunity from Interference – An important characteristic of 60 GHz V-Band solutions is that antenna beamwidths are less than 5° due to the narrow millimeter wave frequencies. This means that many links can be put on the air in the same area just by having them point in slightly different directions. Self-interference or other wireless interference is basically nonexistent at 60 GHz, thanks to the narrow beamwidths and the link-protection effects of 60 GHz oxygen attenuation.
This narrow beamwidth contrasts with comparably sized 5 GHz solutions that have a beamwidth that is more than ten times as wide, thereby transmitting signals that are beyond the location of the intended receiver. In addition, a 5 GHz antenna risks the possibility of receiving interference from other 5 GHz radio links or Wi-Fi routers.
As a related benefit to its 60 GHz V-Band transmissions, broadband solutions companies can utilize frequency division duplex (FDD) operation as a result of the large amount of spectrum available. This is important to know when considering throughput claims, because FDD delivers maximum throughput in both directions since the transmitter and receiver operate simultaneously and independently.
Easy and Cost-Effective to Deploy – 60 GHz V-Band wireless broadband solutions enable companies, service providers and wireless carriers to quickly and cost-effectively keep pace with the growing demands for global communications network expansion. Extending the reach of fiber-optic cable installations can be cost-prohibitive or even impossible to accomplish, due to factors such as right-of-way issues or the need to cross highways, rivers, or other physical barriers.
The cost for this physical cable installation and the politics, delay and additional costs for access rights can be substantial. In many cases, a physical path simply cannot be trenched and that can stop an installation in its tracks. 60 GHz V-Band broadband wireless connectivity is the practical and cost-effective solution to the extension of such fiber-optic networks.
Batman V/s Invisible Man
- E-band gives you protection from 3rd party interference by the regulator (Batman), on the other hand, in V-band you can deploy your network in a stealth mode (Invisible Man)
- Using E-band systems you’ll be able to achieve longer distances (Batman in the Batmobile), while in V-Band you can expect up to 1600-2200 feet / 500-700 meters (Invisible Man) for gigabit capacities
- And finally, V-band supports the development of palm sized radios (Really Invisible Man)
The above differences make V-band and E-band radios different strokes for different folks: V-band is the optimal solution for street level connectivity applications, while E-band is more suitable for macro backhaul, rooftop and aggregation use cases. The V-band is extending the 5GHz band but with much more available spectrum, E-band, on the other hand, complements licensed microwave frequencies.
Before diving into the details, let’s make sure we’re still on the same page: Both E-band and V-band share the characteristics of millimeter waves: high capacity, immunity to interference, suitable for dense deployment and last but not least it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg to deploy a link.
The regulation topic is a complex one and varies from country to country, but in general, (in US, Russia, UK and most of the European countries) the V-band is an unlicensed band, while the E-band is lightly licensed.
Unlicensed means there is no registration process for the equipment, though technical requirements still apply for equipment certification. The absence of the formal registration means:
- You can install a link without any coordination, suitable for some stealth operations
- No license fees
- In case of interference, you rely on equipment’s dynamic interference avoidance algorithms to mitigate and tolerate interference and not on the regulator
Lightly licensed band means that there is a registration process required by the regulator, so in practice:
- If you install a link, you must notify a regulator, in US there is a publically available database where everyone may find all the registered E-band links
- Licensing fees are very low (e.g., $75 for 10 years in the US)
- You get a protection mechanism in a manner of “first served” – if there are 2 links in the same location and one interferes with another, the link that was installed first is protected and the second link will be reconfigured to prevent the interference or removed
There is virtually no chance of interference in either V-band or E-band, because of high free space loss, the directive antennas and many channels available, but some operators consider the spectrum as its asset and prefer to use licensed bands.
What’s the difference in achievable distance?
The main distance-limiting factor of millimeter waves is the rain. The raindrops size is of the order of the wavelength and hence depresses the wave. This is the reason why snow or fog, for example don’t have any effect on the millimeter wave links. In V-band, there is oxygen attenuation in addition to the rain attenuation. The oxygen molecules absorb these frequencies and produces attenuation. The effect is similar to our microwave oven where the water (being part of the food) absorbs the electromagnetic waves generated by the oven and transform the energy to heat.