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InterDigital and BluWireless are in discussions about designing a reference board for 60 GHz backhaul on small cell base stations. It would create a mesh network supporting links that deliver 2 Gbits/s over 150 meters and be finished before June 2015, reports EE Times.

It leverages the IEEE 802.11ad standard (WiGig), which incorporates 60 GHz WiFi. Peraso, a 60 GHz startup, has also announced it is sampling a module for small cell backhaul based on the .11ad standard.

Some believe 60 GHz could be the best way to tie small cells together, although rain fade is significant.

The collaboration aims to enable products with mesh networking costing a few hundred dollars. The duo plans to include on the board electrically steerable phased array antennas.

InterDigital says a third of WiFi links will support 60 GHz by 2018. “We’re interested in 60 GHz because its unlicensed spectrum and the technology has market momentum,” said Doug Castor, a principal engineer heading up the project at the company.

Unlicensed 60 GHz has the capacity to deliver hundreds of Mbps to small cells. While the .11ac standard can deliver 1 Gbps to end users using the 5 GHz band, the .11ad standard also incorporates the 60 Ghz band, currently expected to connect settop boxes in the home. Some vendors apparently believe the 60 GHz band standard could also be used for indoor or outdoor backhaul.

By 2015, small cells are expected to outnumber traditional cell towers by as much as 20 to one. ABI Research says sub 6GHz technology will capture 47 percent of small cell backhaul revenue, or $2.4 billion with 31 percent of last mile links in 2018, while millimeter wave technology will be the fastest growing technology, at 113 percent CAGR to reach a value of $668 million by 2018.

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