Qualcomm Readies Lower-Band 5G Testbed

Qualcomm isn't just focused on millimeter wave for 5G: The chipmaker said Monday it has a lower-band "sub-6GHz" testbed for the next-generation wireless technology.

The prototype has both a sub-6GHz user terminal and basestation serving as a testbed for verifying so-called 5G NR (New Radio) capabilities. Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) says the testbed supports wide radio channels over 100 MHz and is capable of "delivering multi-gigabit per second data rates" with low latency.

Much the excitement around 5G so far has centered around the super-fast broadband capabilities offered with mmWave radios. If the idea of 5G supporting "massive IoT," which is part of the Phase 2 specification due in 2019, is to be realized, then a low-band component is necessary too. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) is already pushing its 2.5GHz spectrum for low-band 5G-ready band. (See Sprint CEO: Our Spectrum Is for 5G.)

For all the latest news on 5G, visit the dedicated 5G site here on Light Reading.

The chipmaker says the prototype is contributing to its radio development work with the 5G group at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) . The 3GPP 5G NR study item has begun as part of Release 14, which is being worked on now, and will feed into Release 15 work items.

This is important because carriers and vendors are still hashing out how a new radio interface for 5G will be implemented. With high-band mmWave (30-300GHz) 5G and sub-6GHz 5G both being worked on, there is still debate on whether 5G will need a single radio interface or multiple radio interfaces.

With this announcement, Qualcomm is reiterating its push for sub-6GHz 5G to be an evolution of 4G LTE, using the same basic radio technology with Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). Meanwhile, Samsung Corp. 's 28GHz 5G testbed, for instance, eschews OFDM for its own waveform. (See SK Telecom Claims 5G Trial Milestone.)

"The 5G NR prototype further demonstrates our leadership in developing a unified, more capable 5G air interface, building upon our long-standing expertise in delivering OFDM chips and technology with LTE and Wi-Fi," said Matt Grob, EVP and CTO at Qualcomm, in a public statement.

Nonetheless, there's still a lot of discussion on the 5G radio interface -- or interfaces -- that will likely take place before the specifications start to arrive in 2018. (See US Cellular Seeking New 5G OFDM Waveform .)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

TV Monitor 6/29/2016 | 10:49:29 AM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part Dan Jones

"Mr. Monitor does so love to push his Samsung as the one true ring of 5G angle."

In the US context it surely is, since low-band 5G is impossible for all carriers in the US except Sprint due to lack of bandwidth and only Samsung has a technology that works in the spectrum designated by FCC as the US 5G band.

The recent disclosure that Japanese government and NTT Docomo were planning to adopt Samsung 5G as Japan's 5G standard based on ground that this was the only 5G technology ready to enter commercial service in time for the Tokyo Olympics was rather shocking, given Japan's ill relationship with Korea. But essentally Samsung 5G has become the de-facto 5G standard among early adopters(US, Japan, Korea) and they can only build from there.

From the current landscape, Samsung and Huawei are big winners, while Qualcomm, Nokia, and Ericsson are big losers in 5G race. Things are shaping out the way I have been foretelling.

Considering the direction of wind blowing, it would be rather dangerous for AT&T and T-Mobile to evaluate Nokia and Ericsson tech for 5G, because they are trailing behind Samsung in 28 Ghz tech by several years, and Europe will be last in 5G deployment. Even if they are willing to wait for Ericsson and Nokia to finish up, Verizon and Softbank/Sprint won't, putting them at a severe disadvantage in terms of capacity after 2020. While T-Mobile may have to wait in order to harmonize with its parent Deustche Telekom in deployed 5G tech, AT&T doesn't have to wait.
TV Monitor 6/29/2016 | 10:42:57 AM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part Sr.Manag64649

"5G NR is not a Qualcomm-specific technology."

It IS a Qualcomm specific format, competing with Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei's rival incompatible formats to be accepted as the 3GPP's low-band 5G technology.

Whoever manages to get their proprietary format accepted as the 3GPP standard would stand to make tens of billions of dollars in patent loyalty.
DanJones 6/29/2016 | 12:31:42 AM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part Yeah I mentioned that in the story. Mr. Monitor does so love to push his Samsung as the one true ring of 5G angle. I guess it's *possible* -- anything's possible! -- but operators don't use a single supplier for a major rollout generally. Too risky.
Sr.Manag64649 6/29/2016 | 12:03:20 AM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part That's quite interesting (and false), given that 5G NR is not a Qualcomm-specific technology. Rather, it is the 5G air interface being studied in the 3GPP: http://www.3gpp.org/news-events/3gpp-news/1787-ontrack_5g
jayakd0 6/28/2016 | 12:59:38 PM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part Thx for that pointer @TV Monitor, apreciate it!
TV Monitor 6/28/2016 | 10:50:41 AM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part jayakd0

Qualcomm pushed for its own 4G tech called UMB(Ultra Mobile Broadband) that went nowhere because no carrier was interested in it. This 5G NR is walking the same path that UMB is walking, because no carrier is interested in it.

jayakd0 6/28/2016 | 9:27:44 AM
Re: 5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part @TV Monitor: hope you meant UWB instead of UMB!
TV Monitor 6/27/2016 | 4:04:37 PM
Re: Market forces? DanJones

"Qualcomm has its eyes on the Chinese 5G market?"

China's national 5G standard is TD-LTE+, which uses 200 Mhz bandwidth and heavy MIMO to boost throughput. Qualcomm may be invited to demonstrate its technology before Chinese for a competitive study purpose, but there is no chance of Chinese adopting 5G NR. Rather, Chinese would demand Qualcomm adopt TD-LTE+ and become a TD-LTE+ chipset supplier instead.

This is same as Ericsson and Nokia demonstrating their 15 Ghz and 70 Ghz hardware in Korea, except that Korea's national 5G standard is already set and the first Samsung 5G network is scheduled to go online in June of 2017, with Samsung 5G Galaxy phones available to testers in October of same year.
TV Monitor 6/27/2016 | 4:00:41 PM
5G NR is a sign of desperation on Qualcomm's part Qualcomm is not involved in any of the first 5G networks being set up, be it in Korea, China, Verizon, Softbank/Sprint, etc. Europeans won't touch Qualcomm technology.

Historically Qualcomm relied on Verizon and Sprint for CDMA business, but both are dumping Qualcomm in 5th gen era. AT&T and T-Mobile are in GSM fold and never had much of a strong relationship with Qualcomm, so it is unlikely they would work with Qualcomm this time around, leaving Qualcomm with no carrier to back its standard, the same situation that doomed UMB.

Additionally, 5G NR is just one of three candidate technologies in 5G below 6 Ghz; TD-LTE+ and Ericsson NX.
DanJones 6/27/2016 | 3:46:21 PM
Market forces? Qualcomm has its eyes on the Chinese 5G market?
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