Qualcomm announces its first 5G New Radio connection

qualcomm 5g new radio prototype

Qualcomm has announced its first sub-6GHz New Radio (NR) connection, establishing its dedication to 5G.

If that statement alone seems less than consequential, put in context, it’s an intriguing new puzzle piece that fits within the larger picture of an emergent set of technologies set to define our new wireless era.

While most people know that 5G is the next generation of wireless technology, hammering down the specifics can be difficult — even after a Google search. That’s because the specifications have yet to be completely standardized, so what exists now is a fairly firm list of aspirational bullet points.

Those points, mainly defined by 3GPP, comprise a multi-Gigabits-per-second data rate, super low latency, fibre-like bandwidth, lower cost per bit and the ability to support denser use cases.

Qualcomm’s NR prototype, which it will demonstrate at Mobile World Congress, is based on design decisions made as part of 3GPP’s ongoing 5G NR ‘Study Item.’

The prototype system, consisting of base stations and user equipment, is capable of operating at mid-band spectrum from 3.3 GHz to 5 GHz, demonstrating multi-gigabit-per-second data rates at latency rates lower than those on 4G LTE networks.

While sub-6 GHz spectrum may seem like a step backwards to some (higher spectrum runs at faster speeds), making use of a wide range of spectrum bands is an essential element of 5G. The use of lower spectrum bands is designed to provide the ubiquitous and reliable coverage desired, while high frequency “millimeter wave” bands will also be introduced for speed, but will have a shorter reach.

The prototype system will be used in over-the-air- 5G NR trials and interoperability testing by the company, starting in the second half of 2017.

At MWC, the SoC maker is demonstrating its prototype from February 27th and March 2nd at its own booth and at China Mobile Communications Corporation’s booth, as part of an ongoing collaboration between the two companies.