Qualcomm to Demo 5G on 3.5GHz at CES

Qualcomm is applying to demonstrate 5G equipment, using 3.5GHz frequencies, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early January.

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) says in its pending application to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it will work with "partner companies," using five "mobile devices" and two basestations, to show off the technology.

"Demonstration equipment will be operated inside the Las Vegas Convention Center where mobile devices are located within 3m of the base station equipment," Qualcomm writes in the application. "The TDD system will operate with a RF transmission bandwidth of 100 MHz and the maximum transmit power is less than 10mW/10MHz EIRP using omni directional antennas."

"There's a simple reason why Qualcomm is using 3.5GHz rather than 28GHz millimeter for 5G demonstrations in the US in 2019. "The reason we specifically requested those bands is because we thought we would be able to get approval to conduct our demos," a Qualcomm spokesman told us.

"And yes, the demos are 3GPP compliant," he said.

Qualcomm has already made it clear it sees 3.5GHz as an important global mid-band option for 5G, especially in China and Europe. (See China Mobile Taps Huawei & Intel for Interop Testing Ahead of Big 5G Plans, Switzerland Sets $222M Base Fee in 5G Auction and South Korea's 5G Auction Raises $3.3B.)

Qualcomm is also expecting to support 3.5GHz in the US for both 4G LTE and 5G NR. It is still not exactly clear how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will position the 150MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum for mobile usage. The FCC is moving towards auctioning the licensed portion of the spectrum with renewable terms, and possibly covering larger areas than the census tracts (generally between 2,000 to 8,000 people), initially proposed for the CBRS (3.5GHz) band. (See FCC's Rosenworcel: US 'Falling Behind' on 5G.)

Currently, the CBRS band offers 150MHz of open spectrum in the 3.5GHz band in a tiered system managed via Spectrum Access System (SAS) databases. Military satellites and radar get priority access, while Priority Access License (PAL) holders get priority over GAA users, who have access to around 80MHz of unlicensed spectrum at the moment. This has the potential to change, although some GAA-based services are expected to be online by the end of this year.

3GPP-based 5G is expected to require 100MHz channels -- as per the Qualcomm demonstration -- in other words, 3.5GHz in the US wouldn't provide have enough spectrum available without aggregating with other radio bands.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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