SRG just completed its fifteenth 5G benchmark study, this time with a focus on mmWave Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), based on testing we did with a high-power CPE in Verizon's networks in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Highlights of the Report include the following:
- Our Thanks. We did this study in collaboration with Accuver Americas and Spirent Communications who provided us with their respective test equipment and platforms, which we identify in the report. SRG did all the testing and analysis of the data and we are solely responsible for the commentary in the report.
- Our Methodology. We conducted stationary tests at more than 50 locations in the Twin Cities using the high-power Wistron NeWeb Corporation LRV5-100 CPE with the Qualcomm QTM527 mmWave antenna module. SRG selected the test areas and the test locations - at many locations we had no knowledge of where the 5G NR cell sites were located.
- It's a Completely Different Animal. We documented a 25 dB advantage with the high-power CPE compared with a 5G NR smartphone. At most test locations, which involved near- or non-line-of-site conditions, and/or distances frequently between 400 and 800 meters (peak = 1.2 km), the 5G NR smartphone could not even connect to the network while the CPE achieved Gigabit-per-Second speeds - well above the promoted speed of 300 Mbps.
- More to Come. Software upgrades from suppliers in early 2021 will further increase the effective range of mmWave, which is somewhat restricted today due to downlink/uplink interference which occurs when the distance the signal travels exceeds the capabilities of the existing TDD frame structure, which didn't anticipate the time required to travel these distances. That being said, we believe the benefits of a high-power CPE are equally applicable to achieving high throughput with near- and NLOS conditions in urban and suburban environments.
- Going beyond eMBB. It is clear to us that we've tested in areas and stumbled upon significant deployments of 5G NR mmWave sites in other states that were solely intended for FWA. There is no reason that mmWave 5G NR can't be used outside of urban and suburban markets for FWA. Mid-band 5G NR will always have the coverage advantage, but the high-power CPE helps level the playing field. The "best spectrum" for FWA will depend on the service offering the operator promotes (speed, data caps, etc.) as well as the population density being served.
- Availability Disconnect. We know where Verizon has mmWave FWA coverage since we had boots on the ground and test equipment in hand. Unfortunately, Verizon's online tool for determining 5G Home Internet service availability doesn't reflect the coverage we observed. Unless an address shows up in the online database, the service isn't available to the consumer. This issue needs to be addressed.