New Record From UScellular, Nokia, and Qualcomm Good for Rural Markets

Rural 5G towers

The amount of distance wireless carriers can cover with 5G is a continued obstacle in any market. For rural markets, however, these issues are even bigger. This is because 5G doesn’t travel very far with the spectrum needed to provide the world’s top speeds, high-band (mmWave) spectrum, unable to even penetrate a wall. 5G requires a lot of infrastructures to deliver signals and companies are continuing to find ways to cover larger areas in the early stages of their deployments. This is what makes the news of UScellular, in collaboration with Nokia and Qualcomm, hitting a record coverage of around 6.2 miles with mmWave spectrum so exciting.

A major component of 5G is where the technology is taking fixed wireless. In its current form, fixed wireless is unable to provide the same level of speed as modern wired communication such as cable or fiber. As mmWave continues to evolve, wireless connections will not only meet but exceed modernly wired and wireless speeds. Fixed wireless continues to be a viable option in markets where nothing else is available, particularly in rural markets. Improved fixed wireless powered by 5G will help connect more Americans to high-speed Internet and close the digital divide seen in many markets.

Tests were held in Grand Island, Nebraska using 28 GHz band spectrum on UScellular’s network. Download speeds were able to average 1 Gbps thanks to Nokia’s AirScale mmWave radio and 5G CPE using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System. 400 MHz of spectrum were used in total. Now, UScellular is looking to continue Nokia’s AirScale solutions for its network using 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands.

“These results demonstrate what 5G mmWave will bring to consumers, enterprises, and industries,” said Nokia President of Mobile Networks Tommi Uitto. “By extending the distance for 5G mmWave technology without sacrificing speed or latency, we will deliver an incredible 5G experience to even more areas.”

Additional tests showed more promising results during the study. Many additional locations showed the network capable of reaching 748 Mbps at nearly 7 miles away. Nokia spoke on the achievement, agreeing that such results can happen in commercial conditions, but “operator deployment strategies will dictate how coverage, capacity or throughput objects are achieved.”

UScellular’s test used a macro tower deployment using a tower/rooftop-mounted radio with higher power CPE for fixed wireless access (FWA). This allowed the Chicago-based wireless provider to beam 5G from its macro tower to provide coverage. Carriers have other options for deploying mmWave spectrum. At the street level, wireless providers can use existing infrastructure to mount 5G equipment such as a light pole or a building powered by a medium power device and small cell type base station to transmit its signal.

There are trials scheduled for 2021 involving UScellular’s 5G FWA. Already connecting nearly 5 million, the midwest provider is looking to improve its network and overcome “last-mile” connection challenges. UScellular provides wireless connections for a variety of markets but many are in rural areas throughout the midwest. “These latest trial results reinforce the important role that fast, reliable wireless service plays in keeping people connected no matter where they live or work,” said UScellular’s CTO Mike Irizarry.

Source: Fierce Wireless