If you’ve heard of millimeter wave 5G transmitters — the key enabler of next-generation cellular networks — you’re probably aware that they offer super fast speeds and ultra-low latency, but operate over relatively short distances and have difficulty penetrating certain types of glass and building materials. To improve 5G performance, SureCall today announced the first FCC-compliant millimeter wave signal booster platform, 5G Everywhere, which will give carriers an alternative to installing even more “small cell” units.
Unlike SureCall’s previously announced Force8 unit, which is designed to boost 5G signals on T-Mobile’s 600MHz and AT&T’s 2.3GHz “sub-6GHz” bands, 5G Everywhere is capable of amplifying any 5G signal broadcast on the 28GHz millimeter wave band. In the United States, T-Mobile and Verizon have made significant investments in 28GHz 5G and started to use that spectrum in multiple cities; fifth-place carrier U.S. Cellular will be using the same band for 5G at some point, as well.
SureCall notes that its millimeter wave signal booster is an embedded, customizable module that’s “fully FCC compliant” for industrial use; it’s intended to be purchased, integrated into hardware, and installed by carriers and their partners — not consumers. Carriers will be able to use 5G Everywhere to work around impeding windows, walls, and doors in buildings; the booster isn’t standalone, and it can’t be user-installed.
The distinction between “industrial” and “consumer” signal boosters isn’t trivial. Another company, Pivotal Commwave, is currently in the process of petitioning the FCC for the right to sell Echo, a standalone 5G millimeter wave-specific alternative that arguably straddles the line between those two categories, but is more of a standalone consumer device. SureCall has opposed Pivotal’s request for an FCC waiver on various technical and legal grounds, including the potential of consumer devices to interfere with existing carrier 5G equipment.
5G Everywhere will be publicly shown at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles next week. Per-unit pricing and availability to carriers have not yet been announced.