2017 in Review: The Year of 5G

Carl Frank
  1. 5G, Active Antenna, Silicon Core IC

2017 was the year of 5G –
The race to 5G became a reality in 2017 with the 3GPP standards body announcement at Mobile World Congress that the new 5G standard would be released in 2019, not 2020 as originally planned. With the announcement, multiple carriers raced to announce trials starting in 2017.

The announcement was fortuitous for Anokiwave because we introduced an IC in 2016 specifically for mmW 5G active antennas – the AWMF-0108 Quad Core Silicon 28GHz IC. With that IC, Anokiwave and Ball Aerospace developed a 64-element Active Antenna, the AWMF-0129, which was introduced at MWC2017. Keysight demonstrated a wideband real-time beamforming solution using the Anokiwave/Ball Active Antenna. The demonstration clearly showed how developers can quickly and accurately test analog, digital, and hybrid beamforming systems. As the first true phased-array ever demonstrated at MWC, the booth generated much excitement.

In March, NI publicly demonstrated a real-time, over-the-air prototype aligned with the Verizon 5G specification. The 28 GHz system uses OFDM with eight component carriers in a 2x2 downlink MU-MIMO configuration, with hybrid beamforming and a self-contained subframe, yielding a 5 Gbps peak throughput that is scalable to over 20 Gbps with eight MIMO streams. The demonstration used the same 64-element phase array antenna developed by Anokiwave and Ball Aerospace.

The 64-element Active Antenna, AWMF-0129, made several appearances during the summer at IMS in Hawaii and at NI days in Taipei – continuing to pave the way to the future of 5G with live MIMO beamforming demonstrations. In fact, we have created a Active Antenna World Tour page to keep track of its many appearances.

In May, 39GHz became another mmW 5G exciting frequency with the announcements of AT&T’s and Verizon’s bidding war for Straight Path, a 39GHz spectrum holder. We responded with the introduction of the AWMF-0123/5 Silicon Quad ICs.

In October, Anokiwave announced a companion array – a reconfigurable 256 element Active Antenna, the AWA-0134. The AWA-0134 was the first commercially available 256-element phased-array at 28 GHz. The array allows for real-time active beam-steering applications in a single 256-element or in a 4x64 element configuration that enables 4x4 MIMO testing. The array was in full demo mode shortly after the announcement at the IWPC National Instruments lab tour, and in December at NI’s booth at the IEEE Globecom in Singapore

Again, because of all the excitement in the arrays, we have kept track of the tours and demonstrations of our arrays in our “Active Antenna Family World Tour Page” on our website.

With these demonstrations, Anokiwave moved into the 5G spotlight with featured presentations at the Brooklyn 5G summit in New York, the International Microwave Symposium in Hawaii, the Global 5G Technology Congress in Shanghai, and ending the year at the IWPC 5G mmW Opportunities and Challenges Workshop.

The year finished with our announcement of a 26 GHz IC, the AWMF-0135 for the China and Europe bands – completing our product portfolio covering all of the major 5G mmW bands and finally with the 3GPP Release 15 in December which defined a 5G overlay onto the existing 4G networks.

Our presence was felt outside of the 5G market as well with presentations at the 2017 SATSHOW, highlighting mmW Silicon ICs for SATCOM Active Antennas and at the 2017 IEEE COMCAS event highlighting the basis of our market success – “All Silicon mmW Planar Active Antennas: The Convergence of Technology, Applications, and Architecture”.

Anokiwave was recognized by the industry media as well in 2017. Microwave Journal named the AWMF-0129 64-Element Active Antenna news release as one of their top 5 articles of 2017, as well as the AWA-0134 256-Element Active Antenna a top product of 2017. Microwaves&RF also named the AWA-0134 as a top product in 2017 as well. EverythingRF also recognized the AWMF-0129 announcement as a top RF news story in 2017.

We continued to grow in 2017 with the expansion of the San Diego office into a modern, functional, open-concept floor plan features a low noise environment suitable for engineering teams with adequate space for an engineering laboratory and headcount continued to increase with key positions enhancing our ability to continue developing state of the art products for 5G, SATCOM, and A/D markets.

As we reflect on 2017, we look to an even more exciting 2018. See you soon.