Mind the Gap with Geoff Varrall – The economic impact of implementation loss on 5G

The economic impact of implementation loss on 5G – from the start

Mind the Gap

In the early 1980’s, engineers struggled to design and build low cost cellular phones at 800 and 900 MHz. Having sorted that out, they then had to design phones for 1800 and 1900 MHz and then 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz.

The 5G standards now introduce a range of frequency options up to 7125 MHz (Frequency Range 1/FR1) and from 24.25 GHz to 52.6 GHz (Frequency Range 2/FR2) including Ku band at 12 GHz and Ka band at 28 and 38 GHz. An additional band between 10.00 and 10.5 GHz is under study (within X band) as are bands between 52.6 and 71 GHz.

The satellite industry has been building transceivers at these higher frequencies for these bands for some years but not at consumer price points. Many of us own satellite TV receivers working at 12 GHz but these are receivers not transceivers and as all RF engineers will tell you, putting an RF transmitter next to a receiver is the hard bit of the design brief.

It is also harder to model circuit and system level performance at higher frequencies which leads to what is generally described as ‘implementation loss’ the gap between predicted performance, measured performance and actual performance. Measuring phased array antennas for example is a difficult and frustratingly approximate process.

Unfortunately there is strong anecdotal evidence that implementation loss is increasing over time and it is therefore becoming increasingly important that the implementation margin (the difference between predicted and actual performance) is fully factored into radio network economic modelling. Engineers are not supposed to be economists which is odd when you consider that the purpose of engineering is to make things more cost efficient and effective.

In this month’s technology topic, New Radio and New Space, the RF Cost economics of the Millimetre Band, we explore the economic impact of implementation loss on 5G and ‘New Space’ business models and why this might mean there is only space in space for one ‘Big LEO’ constellation.

You can read more about the RF Cost Economics of the Millimetre Band and 5G and satellite networks by visiting the RTT web site

By following us on LinkedIn.


By buying a copy of our book, 5G and Satellite Spectrum Standards and Scale.


Or by attending our next webinar on Thursday 19th November, hosted by Niche Markets Asia.

New Radio and New Space – The RF Cost Economics of the Millimetre Band


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