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Millimetre wave technology set to take off in next five years

By Catherine Knowles, Mon 17 Aug 2015
FYI, this story is more than a year old

In the next five to six years millimetre wave (MMW) technology will become increasingly significant to a number of industries as it extends the transmission of data over wireless communications, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The proliferation of smart devices and rising importance of interconnectivity is intensifying the demand for high-speed data connectivity, high-resolution data transfer, and cost-efficient data security. MMW technology can address all of these demands, says Frost & Sullivan.

Recognising this, government agencies across the world are actively funding their R&D in the fields of aerospace and defence, while consumer electronics and network carrier original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are adopting the technology to extend the capabilities of existing applications, Frost & Sullivan says.

The telecommunications industry is seeking low-cost, high-capacity tools to transport data to the edge of the network, where small cells will reside, the analyst say.

"MMW will find significant application in complementing the usage of the higher frequency spectrum in wireless communications," says Jabez Mendelson, Frost & Sullivan technical insights research analyst.

"The high frequency of MMWs would enable the creation of small-sized antennas and multiple-element phased arrays on a substrate chip. Furthermore, it would also aid in the design and development of compact MMW equipment,” he says.

While the advantages are significant, MMWs also exhibit certain technical deficiencies, according to the analysts.

Millimetre waves are susceptible to rain fade (60 GHz and 70/80 GHz), wherein the heavy oxygen absorption in the atmosphere at 60 GHz limits the distance of signal transmission.

Although there are various vendors who claim to have minimised rain fade, no MMW technology has effectively addressed this issue, says Frost & Sullivan.

Nevertheless, technological advances are spawning new applications and ultimately, new opportunities for MMW technology across diverse industry verticals such as telecommunications, healthcare, aerospace, defence, automobile and commercial security, according to Frost & Sullivan.

In particular, there is a wealth of opportunities for such technology in the telecommunication industry, since there is more spectrum available for usage in the MMW bands than in the wave bands presently used for mobile communications.

Similarly, when used in driver assistant systems, MMW technology can accelerate the commercialisation process of unmanned vehicles.

Furthermore, the technology has considerable utility in the healthcare and commercial security industries due to its incorporation in scanning and imaging devices, says Frost & Sullivan.

Ultimately, MMWs can improve the accuracy and proximity of sensors in wireless sensor networks, while the greater precision of radar systems developed using the technology can boost satellite communication.

Overall, it helps reduce the load pressure faced by lower frequencies and most importantly, enables the transmission of data without interference from nearby radio waves, Frost & Sullivan says.

"Overall, with superior technology sophistication, the number of applications that can benefit from MMW will multiply, as will the business models and end-user markets," says Mendelson.

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