Gigabit 6 GHz Fixed Wireless This Year? Qualcomm, Cambium Networks, Nextlink think so

There are 1,200 MHz of unlicensed spectrum in the US around 6 GHz. That dwarfs previously available spectrum and is enough, for now, to dedicate 160 MHz to an application. Nextlink, Cambium Networks, and Qualcomm did a successful field test of FWA.

Everyone’s dreaming of a share of the $42 billion in BEAD money. It’s geared to fiber, but wireless with true gigabit speeds also qualifies. The “up to” 1 Gbps won money from RDOF but is unlikely to average even 500 Mbps.

The 6 GHz band is unproven but likely to reach a true gigabit. Cambium Networks and Nextlink are optimistic about field deployments in 2022. Nextlink intends to go for BEAD funding.

Sakid Ahmed of Cambium writes me “Preliminary tests were done with two dish-like receivers with a 4×4 antenna. Total bandwidth for the access point would be in the 3.5 range Gbps with MU-MIMO involved.”

At first thought, 3.5 Gbps doesn’t seem likely to reliably offer 1 Gbps to many customers. However, few people use much more than 20 Mbps, much less anything close to a gigabit. 10 Mbps is enough for 2 HD TVs and anything you are likely to do on the web except giant downloads. Gigabit cable has proven very reliable with very high oversubscription.

I’d expect to be within 10% of the gigabit > 90% of the time if the network is robust. Delivering a gigabit to most customers requires dense cells, which can be very expensive. Without enough cells, many customers would not get the gigabit.

One of the biggest mistakes of my career was assuring Malcolm Turnbull that vectored VDSL would deliver 100 Mbps. When he became Australia’s Prime Minister, he switched the National Broadband Network from FTTH to vectoring. A few years later, we discovered many homes received less than 50 Mbps. Customers close to the DSLAM did receive 100 Mbps but NBN did not install enough DSLAMs. Speeds were much lower for those further away from the DSLAM.

We’ll know more when there are more results from the field.

Here’s the pr

Real-World Testing by Nextlink Internet Proves Widespread Gigabit Fixed Wireless Deployments Will Soon Hit the Market

HUDSON OAKS, Texas – Nextlink Internet announces the results of 6 GHz spectrum testing, clearing the way for more gigabit fixed wireless deployments nationwide. The industry is anxiously awaiting the availability of the 6 GHz spectrum and Nextlink took the initiative to field test fixed wireless technology. Utilizing an FCC experimental license, and Cambium Networks fixed wireless access points and subscriber modules utilizing Qualcomm® Networking Pro Series Platforms, Nextlink achieved actual throughput of over 1 Gbps download and 500 Mbps upload to each subscriber module under full load, utilizing a 160 MHz channel at 2 miles.

“We are on a mission to provide high-quality internet access everywhere we serve. This gives us another tool in the toolkit to do just that,” said Bill Baker, Founder and CEO of Nextlink Internet.  “Upon full commercial deployment later this year, we look forward to rolling out gigabit speed plans in the entirety of our existing fixed wireless service network plus our prospective network expansion for the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program.  Ultimately, this expansion of gigabit fixed wireless will cover over four million of households and businesses.”

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