In Business Model, Internet Access, Mobile, Spectrum

Sometimes a bug  can be a feature. Perhaps, more commonly, a bug is an implicit end user request for a feature not originally envisioned. In the radio communications world, high signal attenuation is typically considered a problem, hence a “bug.”

Consider atmospheric signal attenuation around 60 GHz. Since high signal attenuation means limited transmission distance, most of us would consider the signal absorption in the atmosphere for signals sent around 60 GHz to be a “bug,” for the same reason signal attenuation at higher frequencies has been viewed as a bug, and why lower frequencies have historically been favored for mobile communications.


source: Signals Research Group, FCC

But high signal attenuation is a bug that becomes a feature for mesh access networks. Basically, the signals attenuate so rapidly that there actually is little signal interference for access networks with many paths.

In other words, the highly-directional signal performance actually provides interference protection.

In perhaps similar fashion, millimeter wave signal attenuation (a “bug”) also comes with a “feature” (capacity 10 times to 100 times greater than signals at lower frequencies). Basically, one trades coverage (distance) for capacity.

For mobile operators facing ever-increasing requirements for capacity, but with stubborn limits on end user willingness to pay, high-capacity millimeter wave spectrum is a feature, not a bug. The same will be true as mobile and wireless communication networks begin to exploit teraHertz spectrum as well.

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