Antenna Count for Massive MIMO: 1.9 GHz versus 60 GHz

Erik G. Larsson, Thomas L. Marzetta, Hien Quoc Ngo, Hong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
198 Downloads (Pure)


If we assume line-of-sight propagation and perfect channel state information at the base station – consistent with slow moving terminals – then a direct performance comparison between Massive MIMO at PCS and mmWave frequency bands is straightforward and highly illuminating. Line-of-sight propagation is considered favorable for mmWave because of minimal attenuation, and its facilitation of hybrid beamforming to reduce the required number of active transceivers. We quantify the number of mmWave (60 GHz) service antennas that are needed to duplicate the performance of a specified number of PCS (1:9 GHz) service antennas. As a baseline we consider a modest PCS deployment of 128 antennas serving 18 terminals. At one extreme, we find that, to achieve the same per-terminal max-min 95%-likely downlink throughput in a single-cell system, 20000 mmWave antennas are needed. To match the total antenna area of the PCS array would require 128000 half-wavelength mmWave antennas,
but a much reduced number is adequate because the large number of antennas also confers greater channel orthogonality. At the other extreme, in a highly interference-limited multi-cell environment, only 215 mmWave antennas are needed; in this case, increasing the transmitted power yields little improvement in service quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-137
JournalIEEE Communications Magazine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018


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