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Maximize C-band Coverage and Capacity in 5G Networks

The highly sought-after mid-band spectrum balances coverage and capacity characteristics, establishing itself as a vital player in the global rollout of 5G. To increase mid-band availability, the FCC has been transitioning the use of a mid-band block, known as the C-band (3.7-4.2 GHz), from satellite operations to 5G services. The incumbent satellite users will relocate to the band’s upper 200 MHz, followed by a 20 MHz guard band, leaving the remaining 280 MHz of C-band spectrum (3.7-3.98 GHz) for 5G. The recent high-grossing FCC auction for licenses in the 280 MHz swath of C-band spectrum demonstrates just how critical C-band is for 5G deployments.

Allowing time for incumbent satellite operators to make their transition, 100 MHz of C-band is to become available for use in December 2021, with the remaining 180 MHz expected to be ready for 5G use by December 2023. Additional mid-band spectrum allocations include 2020’s CBRS (3.55-3.7 GHz) PAL auctions and the assessment of the valued 3.45-3.55 GHz band for flexible-use licenses. To navigate fragmented RF bands and capitalize on upcoming C-band availability, it is vital to employ optimal signal combining and distribution solutions in next-generation networks. Ultra-wideband (UWB) signal combining and distribution solutions ensure the seamless use of 5G FR1 spectrum bands as they become available. This minimizes an expensive rip-and-replace of network infrastructure and enables the immediate and straightforward injection of new frequency band services.

With 5G in C-band, significantly wider channel bandwidths are also employed than its predecessors for improved throughputs. To accommodate 5G bandwidth, signal combining solutions require wide passbands transmitted after filtering. Losses should ideally remain low even with wide passbands for improved link budgets and coverage integrity. Low-loss components ensure optimal coverage to benefit from C-band’s improved signal propagation characteristics. A network incorporating products with high insertion loss and high return loss will endure inefficiency and reduced coverage. Efficient, top-end signal combining and distribution products maximize the C band’s coverage capabilities for 5G services while not exacerbating the 5G network densification requirements. Additionally, compact, lighter form components increase design flexibility, improve concealment, and heat dissipation, and quicken commissioning for 5G small cells.

Microlab provides leading solutions for signal combining (multi-band combiners, hybrid combiners, terminations) and distribution (directional couplers, reactive and Wilkinson splitters, tappers, cable assemblies, attenuators), which ensure 5G network deployments take complete advantage of the invaluable mid-band, including the forthcoming C-band availability. The compact, readily available UWB product portfolio from Microlab delivers the low-loss, broad passband capabilities to exploit C-band coverage and capacity optimally. Often available in a few weeks, Microlab custom solutions quickly remedy site-specific challenges to achieve the best results for any 5G network deployment.

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