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mmWave Beamforming and Phased Array Basics

Article descirbes the basic active antenna beamforming concepts that form the heart of mmWave systems.

Unprecedented demand for data is driving the need for more spectrum, due to scarcity in lower bands, the focus has turned to higher frequency bands, also known as mmWave spectrum. Systems utilizing mmWave spectrum can easily support the higher data rates and accommodate increased traffic demands that satisfy the insatiable need for faster, more robust connectivity.

Building a mmWave system is not trivial. Defense and Aerospace markets have used phased array antenna technology for years to overcome the high path loss associated with mmWave bands, however those systems were complex, expensive, and required a high amount of technical know-how. As the market has grown into commercial applications, symmetric implementations of phased array antennas with silicon quad beamforming architectures in a printed circuit medium, with high volume/low cost scalability have become the preferred technology to enable a system that meets performance and cost points.

This article discusses the basic active antenna beamforming concepts that form the heart of the mmWave system, as well as the general beamforming architectures used in active antennas for applications such as 5G networks, SATCOM Flat Panel Arrays, and Defense and Areospace systems.

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