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.)
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