U.S. Cellular makes extended range 5G NR mmWave data call

Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, and U.S. Cellular announced that the companies have achieved the first extended range 5G NR millimeter Wave (mmWave) data call in the U.S. on a commercial network.
5G mmWave spectrum

U.S. Cellular completed the extended-range data call in Janesville, Wisconsin, over a more than 5km distance with speeds greater than 100Mbps. This achievement redefines the perception of 5G mmWave spectrum as an urban- or high-density-only deployment technology and offers new opportunities to use current infrastructure for broader 5G coverage.

mmWave can expand broadband services in rural, suburban, and urban communities. This breakthrough gives communications service providers a cost effective way to expand their coverage and deliver 5G experience to communities that previously were not serviced or may have lacked a reliable connection.

It will also open the door for new use cases. For example, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) installations can provide a cost-effective way to deliver fiber-like internet speeds wirelessly over mmWave to institutions such as schools, hospitals and town halls, and for addressing some of the “last mile” challenges in rural areas.

FWA provides the bandwidth required to support high definition streaming services that can improve experiences like remote education and remote healthcare in suburban and rural environments.

“Expanding 5G mmWave coverage enables us to offer high-speed broadband services to consumers and businesses in rural areas and underserved communities and reinforces our commitment to technological leadership for rural America,” Mike Irizarry, chief technology officer of U.S. Cellular, said.

Per Narvinger, head of Product Area Networks, Ericsson, said: “Ericsson has demonstrated the commercial viability of long-range 5G radio capability for mmWave spectrum.”

“This major milestone of using mmWave for an extended-range 5G data transfer is paving the way to implement fixed broadband services for broad coverage in urban, suburban and rural environments,” Alejandro Holcman, senior vice president, Engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, said.

The milestone was achieved by applying extended-range software to commercial Ericsson hardware – including AIR 5121 and Baseband 6630 – and a 5G CPE device powered by the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System with the Qualcomm QTM527 mmWave antenna module.