Qualcomm & Samsung to Work on 5G Small Cells

Qualcomm has named its first 5G small cell chip partner -- Samsung -- as the pair work together to commercialize standardized 5G in small cells, with the silicon due to begin sampling in 2020.

The FSM100xx was initially announced by Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) in May. The silicon -- built on a 10-nanometer process -- will support millimeter wave (28GHz) or "sub6GHz" connections (3.5GHz and 2.4GHz, for instance) using the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G NR standard.

Qualcomm is expecting to see the first 5G NR-compatible smartphones using its chipsets out in early 2019. "This is our infrastructure play," says Irvind Ghai, VP of product management at Qualcomm, of the FSM100xx chipset.

What are the key technologies and processes that will underpin successful, full 5G deployments? Check out our 5G Big Picture Prime Reading report to find out.

The chipmaker has so far tested the silicon at 1.5 Gbit/s on millimeter wave, and 500 Mbit/s with sub6 frequencies. It is intended for use in both indoor and outdoor small cells. (See Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access?)

With millimeter-wave frequencies -- and even higher sub6 frequencies -- small cells are expected to be crucial for general coverage and indoor signal propagation. With an anticipated range of 200 meters expected for 28GHz deployments, or -- in other words -- a system that roughly requires a small cell every block in New York City. (See High-Band 5G: Let's Address the Range Question, Shall We? and Millimeter Wave 5G: The Usain Bolt of Wireless?)

With the chipset sampling in 2020, this likely pushes commercialization out to late 2020 or further. Meanwhile, Ghai says that he expects enterprise vendors will be the first to deliver products into the field based on the chipset, citing the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval of Ruckus Wireless Inc. 's CBRS access points as an indicator that enterprise-focused gear would be able to get onto the market quicker, when compared to the months -- sometimes years -- of testing that carriers undertake.

Expect more customer and partner announcements around this chipset from Qualcomm later this year.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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