It's Not Just mmWave! 5G Will Go Low to Innovate Too

Having been with Qualcomm for more than 18 years -- I've seen many changes in wireless technology -- and 5G promises to be another fundamental shift in both lower-band and high-band spectrum.

I was deeply involved in the development of CDMA/UMTS, and later led the LTE/OFDM research that enabled the transition to 4G. Each "G" enabled a different class of service. For example, moving from analog 1G to 2G was all about digital voice. With 2G to 3G, the service innovation was voice plus data. For 3G to 4G, it was all about the all-IP network-based mobile broadband.

Now enter 5G! What will the new innovative classes of service be for the next generation of mobile? It's not quite that simple, because 5G is different.

5G will expand the value of mobile networks to take on a much larger role than previous generations. In that sense, the transition to 5G will be fundamentally different in terms of scope and the ability to deliver impactful new technology innovations across diverse industries.

We envision 5G empowering new connected services across an array of use cases -- enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT and mission-critical services -- whereas 4G initially focused on mobile broadband. 5G will need to adapt and scale to an extreme variation of services, devices and deployment types, and get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of spectrum regulatory paradigms and bands.

Will 5G be the end of 4G LTE? No. 4G LTE will expand to play a key role in this transition to 5G -- many of the fundamental wireless technologies in 4G, such as OFDM, MIMO, Carrier Aggregation, Small Cells, Dual Connectivity and usage of Unlicensed Spectrum, will be crucial to 5G’s success.

Future proofing with 5G New Radio
An innovative feature of 5G is that it is being designed in a future-proof manner so we can meet the extreme network requirements for the next decade and beyond. A key component in this puzzle is the standardization of the 5G New Radio (NR), which Qualcomm Technologies and industry partners are conducting impactful demos, showcasing spec-compliant prototypes and carrying out trials in order to accelerate the deployment of 5G.

5G NR will scale to address diverse services and devices
5G NR will scale to address diverse services and devices

There is a lot of buzz about mmWave (especially 28GHz) right now, so one possible misconception is that 5G is only about mmWave. While it’s true that 5G mmWave is an important area of innovation that brings excellent extreme mobile broadband experiences (we previously shared our mmWave progress in a Light Reading blog), let's not forget that 5G NR (New Radio) is a unifying connectivity fabric that will support all band types -- from low bands below 1GHz, to mid bands from 1GHz to 6GHz, to high bands such as mmWave (24-40GHz and eventually 60GHz). And 5G networks and devices will also need to be able to work on licensed, shared and unlicensed spectrum, sometimes concurrently, as pioneered with LTE's Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).

Getting the most out of every bit of spectrum with 5G
Getting the most out of every bit of spectrum with 5G

So what is the importance of 5G New Radio operating in the mid and low bands (commonly referred to as "Sub-6GHz")? We are talking about enabling a large number of use cases that go way beyond just mobile broadband, and in this endeavor, spectrum bands below 6 GHz are important to ensure there is good, ubiquitous coverage, and reliability and capacity to address uses cases such as massive IoT and mission critical services, which cannot be addressed efficiently in mmWave bands. LTE is also evolving to support some of these use cases in lower bands below 6GHz, for example narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) that will serve us well in the coming years. However, 5G will further refine narrowband IoT support with innovative mesh architectures, efficient waveforms and autonomous uplink transmissions, and add support for highly reliable and secure links that enable new mission critical services.

5G NR also brings in a plethora of technologies that deliver new levels of capability and efficiency for enhanced mobile broadband in spectrum bands below 6 GHz. For example, Massive MIMO is a key aspect of sub-6 GHz mid-band deployments wherein 5G base stations use a large number of antennas (e.g.256) and perform advanced RF reciprocity-based beamforming and 3D beam-tracking to serve multiple users simultaneously. Massive MIMO can enable reuse of today’s existing macro sites in, say 2GHz deployments, and when augmented with, say 4GHz bands, improve user experience at the cell edge. Massive MIMO ultimately translates to more a uniform user experience and increased cell capacity, in addition to higher peak data rates, regardless of the spectrum band used.

5G will introduce many new technologies to meet the new requirements
5G will introduce many new technologies to meet the new requirements

Earlier this year at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, we announced our 5G NR Sub-6 GHz prototype, which operates in mid-range spectrum bands below 6 GHz. The prototype system is not only being utilized as a testbed for our innovative 5G designs, but it is also a trial platform that will track 3GPP 5G NR standardization progress closely to enable early trials and deployments with ecosystem partners, starting in 2017. The sub-6 GHz prototype platform demonstrates multi-Gbit/s data rates at significantly lower latency than is possible with LTE today. This enables a new class of smartphones, as well as other future mobile devices (e.g., head-mounted displays for immersive VR/AR). The significantly lower latency, coupled with higher reliability and security, also enables mission-critical control services such as control of drones, industrial equipment, robotics and autonomous vehicles.

Qualcomm Technologies 5G NR Sub-6 GHz prototype system and trial platform
Qualcomm Technologies 5G NR Sub-6 GHz prototype system and trial platform

More 5G breakthroughs coming from Qualcomm
Want to learn how Qualcomm is making 5G NR a reality? Join us at our Technical Workshop at CTIA Super Mobility 2016, or check out our demos at the 5G Launchpad. If you can't make it to Las Vegas in the next two days, check out this video about Sub-6GHz prototype. Also learn more at our 5G site and stay tuned for our next major milestone in the journey to 5G!

— Durga Malladi, SVP, Engineering, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)

DanJones 9/8/2016 | 12:37:52 PM
Re: 5G is 28 Ghz in the US. Qualcomm is a non-player in 5G I know exactly what he meant, thanks very much, you patronising twonk. I'm here at CTIA talking about it right now.

Since your crystal ball is so amazing and you can see 4 years into the future, care top predict when the 28GHz auctions will happen in the US and when the FCC will be able to clear the spectrum so that operators can use it?

Cos non of the 28GHz stuff EVEN HAPPENS without those auctions happening in a timely fashion. 
TV Monitor 9/7/2016 | 6:49:13 PM
Re: 5G is 28 Ghz in the US. Qualcomm is a non-player in 5G Dan Jones

What he meant by NR is the next gen radio.

There are multiple companies offering incompatible versions of Below 6 Ghz 5G radio, such as Ericsson 5G NR and Qualcomm 5G NR.

Differences will have to be sorted out by 3GPP meeting.

But the fact remains that there is no spectrum available in the US to do 5G in below 6 Ghz unless you are Sprint.

But as this very editorial implies, Qualcomm lacks far behind Samsung in 28 Ghz mmwave 5G. Since 28 Ghz 5G is the future, Qualcomm doesn't factor in it and cannot possibly compete against Samsung 5G which would have seen a commercial service by 2020 with matching 5G phones.
DanJones 9/7/2016 | 6:16:55 PM
Re: 5G is 28 Ghz in the US. Qualcomm is a non-player in 5G Actually, Keoppes at Verizon said just a couple of weeks ago that they working closely on the NR radio and intend their fixed 5G spec to be software upgradable to NR. 
TV Monitor 9/7/2016 | 5:38:58 PM
Re: 5G is 28 Ghz in the US. Qualcomm is a non-player in 5G DanJones

"There's 150MHz coming available in the CBRS band"

150 Mhz is not enough for single network to do 5G service, much less multiple networks.

In other word, CBRS cannot be used to provide a decent 5G service unless all of it is allocated to single network per market.

This is why Qualcomm's pretty much doomed in the long term, they have been shut out of 5G debates and no one's touching Qualcomm tech in early 5G deployments.

Qualcomm's pretty much stuck with doing LTE derivatives and IoT services for survival, but is a non-player in 5G.

Qualcomm has been in this situation before, where Qualcomm pushed UMB as a 4G format but no one showed interest, so Qualcomm canned it and bet the farm on LTE.

Just like UMB no one is showing an interest in deploying the 5G NR, so Qualcomm should just scrap this and focus on LTE derivates too.
DanJones 9/7/2016 | 5:07:21 PM
Re: 5G is 28 Ghz in the US. Qualcomm is a non-player in 5G There's 150MHz coming available in the CBRS band and the FCC has upped transmit power limits to 47Db, that's not scotch mist. 

Anyway, the elephant in the room that I haven't written much on yet and you're way not interested in talking about -- because it breaks your rah-rah-rah Samsung story -- is exactly how long it will take to have new mmWave auctions in the US for the new spectrum. I don't know yet but it is going to be tight opening up those bands if 2020 is our target. I don't know if it will get done.


TV Monitor 9/7/2016 | 2:30:07 PM
5G is 28 Ghz in the US. Qualcomm is a non-player in 5G This editorial looks nothing more than an act of desperation on Qualcomm's part, now that the FCC has made 28 Ghz the US 5G band but Qualcomm is years behind Samsung in mmwave 5G development.

Let's be realistic, there is no place in the US to deploy 5G NR as proposed by Qualcomm. Spectrum below 6 Ghz is an extremely valuable property with a 10 Mhz bandwidth in 700 Mhz band selling for tens of billions of dollars in current FCC auction a piece, and no US carrier can afford to buy up enough spectrum below 6 Ghz to be able to deploy 5G NR. Only Sprint can, but Softbank is not interested in 5G NR at all and is betting the farm on Chinese 5G.

In that case, Qualcomm's business opportunity is restricted to unlicensed LTE-U deployments in the 3.5 Ghz CBRS or 5 Ghz Wifi spectrum, but this is in no way considered 5G.

Qualcomm needs to admit that it has already lost the 5G race and refocus its attention on LTE variants such as LTE-M, NB-IOT, and V2X. Don't waste precisous resources on useless tech like 5G NR with no prospective takers. 5G NR has UMB's fate written all over it.
TV Monitor 9/7/2016 | 2:16:38 PM
T-Mobile announces testing of Samsung 5G http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwgeeks/article/Samsung-to-Collaborate-with-T-Mobile-on-5G-Mobile-Network-Technology-Demonstrations-and-Trials-20160907

Samsung Electronics America, Inc. announced it is collaborating with T-Mobile US on new demonstrations and lab tests designed to bring the power of 5G mobile networks to the masses. Through this collaboration, the companies will assess next generation network development in real-world mobile use cases and applications, and conduct lab and field trials that demonstrate a range of innovative 5G-driven capabilities.

The collaboration includes initial testing later this year of 5G mobility in an outdoor environment using T-Mobile's 28 GHz (mmWave) spectrum and Samsung's 5G proof of concept system, which will be enabled by Samsung's advanced beam forming technology. In early 2017, additional in-depth trials will continue using a Samsung pre-commercial 28 GHz system.

"We are excited to work with Samsung to see how we can bring to life key attributes of emerging 5G technology, including extreme speed, low latency and massive connectivity," said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer, T-Mobile. "Our collaboration with Samsung's networks technology will enable us to enhance 5G development and availability."
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