Phazr notches up fixed wireless 5G trials with Verizon and C Spire

Phazr may be backed by Fibertower, now owned by AT&T, but that has not restricted other US operators from testing its millimeter wave fixed wireless technology.

Both Verizon and C Spire have recently applied for temporary permits to test the Phazr technology, which is also in field trials with the cable industry’s R&D unit, CableLabs, and has conducted tests with a UK MNO.

Phazr has developed a low cost fixed wireless platform based on a WiFi ASIC and incorporating 384 antennas in the base station and 64 in the CPE. It promises data rates of up to 30Gbps over one kilometer with line of sight, or 200-800 meters without.

In an approach it calls Quadplex, it only uses the millimeter wave bands (between 24 GHz and 40 GHz) for downlink and relies on more commonly used sub-6 GHz frequencies (3.5 GHz to 5 GHz) for the uplink, avoiding the need for a power-hungry mmWave transmitter in 5G devices and reducing cost and power consumption.

The company has patents pending for its beamforming technologies and for a user-installable router, called Gazer, which combines the mmWave modem with 802.11ac WiFi. This allows the ‘5G’ Radio Backbone (RABACK) nodes to provide backhaul for gigabit access for standard WiFi devices.

This approach ticks several boxes for the US carriers as they look to fixed wireless as the initial use case for 5G, especially in high frequency spectrum bands. C Spire told FierceWirelessTech that it will conduct a 5G R&D test with Phazr at its headquarters in Ridgeland, Mississippi this month.

Phazr filed an application with the FCC for a Special Temporary Authority to test and demonstrate 5G millimeter wave equipment in the city, while Verizon recently applied for a similar permit, for its location in Euless, Texas.

A C Spire executive said the operator plans to transmit HD video content from its fiber-based TV service over the fixed wireless connections, testing the speed and quality “with the goal of helping solve a huge economic problem—how to efficiently and cost-effectively deploy fiber-based services in rural and underserved areas, which comprise the majority of our service area”.

Last year, the regional MNO demonstrated millimeter wave fixed wireless using Nokia prototype 5G equipment with a direct connection to its fiber-based television service. That delivered C Spire Fiber content, including UHD video, with speeds up to 2.2Gbps and latency below 1.4ms.

Meanwhile, Verizon said its tests were designed to “understand the characteristics of mmWave operating bands, specifically 28 GHz and 39 GHz, channel bandwidths, and U/L ratios for residential/commercial deployments”. It will test three Phazr fixed wireless units running in 28 GHz, 39 GHz and 3.5 GHz spectrum bands.

Phazr founder and CEO Farooq Khan left his post as president of Samsung Research America last year to work full time on the start-up.