Demystifying 60GHz Outdoor Picocells

Yibo Zhu
Zengbin Zhang
Zhinous Marzi
Chris Nelson
Upamanyu Madhow
Ben Y. Zhao
Haitao Zheng

Proceedings of the 20th Annual International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking (MOBICOM 2014)

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Paper Abstract

Mobile network traffic is set to explode in our near future, driven by the growth of bandwidth-hungry media applications. Current capacity solutions, including buying spectrum, WiFi offloading, and LTE picocells, are unlikely to supply the orders-of-magnitude bandwidth increase we need. In this paper, we explore a dramatically different alternative in the form of 60GHz mmwave picocells with highly directional links. While industry is investigating other mmwave bands (e.g. 28GHz to avoid oxygen absorption), we prefer the unlicensed 60GHz band with highly directional, short-range links (~100m). 60GHz links truly reap the spatial reuse benefits of small cells while delivering high per-user data rates and leveraging efforts on indoor 60GHz PHY technology and standards. Using extensive measurements on off-the-shelf 60GHz radios and system-level simulations, we explore the feasibility of 60GHz picocells by characterizing range, attenuation due to reflections, sensitivity to movement and blockage, and interference in typical urban environments. Our results dispel some common myths, and show that there are no fundamental physical barriers to high-capacity 60GHz outdoor picocells. We conclude by identifying open challenges and associated research opportunities.