Filtronic Ramps Up E-Band Transceivers for 5G Backhaul

By Michelle Donegan 11 February 2019


Filtronic, the Leeds-based designer and manufacturer of wireless components and subsystems, announced that it has shipped 25,000 E-band transceiver modules to OEM customers. The milestone indicates growing interest among mobile network operators to leverage the wide bandwidths of E-band spectrum (that is, 71GHz – 76GHz and 81GHz – 86GHz) for high-capacity 5G backhaul and fronthaul applications.

As operators increase wireless access speeds with 5G, they will also need to boost bandwidth in the transport network to prevent backhaul from becoming a bottleneck. According to an ETSI white paper on “Microwave and Millimetre-wave for 5G Transport,” backhaul capacity requirements for macro or small cells deployed in dense urban areas are expected to be more than 10Gbps; in urban areas, the requirement could be up to 10Gbps; and in suburban deployments, the capacity requirement for macro cells could be up to 4Gbps.

Wireless backhaul deployed in E-band spectrum can achieve multi-Gbps speeds, according to Filtronic. Indeed, demonstrations of systems powered by the company’s E-band components have shown data rates up to 40Gbps.

The company’s newest E-band transceiver, called Orpheus, has been proven in the field – with more than 5,000 in service – and has been deployed in wide-bandwidth, high-capacity applications up to 10Gbps per channel.

Rob Smith, CEO of Filtronic, said: “Our latest generation E-band transceiver product, Orpheus, went into production in 2016, and since then 10,000 Orpheus modules have been shipped to several customers, including leading OEMs, for incorporation into their high-capacity mobile backhaul radio solutions. This recent success has added to the large number of earlier-generation E-band products we had shipped, taking us past the 25,000 milestone.”

The Wireless Way to 5G Transport

While fibre is expected to be the go-to infrastructure for meeting 5G transport capacity requirements, there will still be occasions when operators do not have ready access to dark fibre, or it is too costly or time-consuming to lay new fibre. Wireless backhaul options offer faster deployment times and are likely to complement fibre-based transport networks.

Among the millimetre-wave bands, the benefits of E-band spectrum are that it offers very high capacity, there is generally a lot of it available and it is lightly licensed.

Filtronic is not the only UK company offering millimetre-wave-based products that are suitable for 5G backhaul. Others include Blu Wireless, CBNL and CCS.

About Michelle Donegan

Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends. 

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