5G is the 'new electricity', according to Qualcomm's CEO

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With many leading operators expected to begin decommissioning their 2G/GSM networks – and, in some cases, 3G/UMTS networks – as they move towards 4G/LTE networks, Qualcomm said it expects to see the first 5G smartphones appearing next year.

“While we are working with a growing number of OEMs that have smartphone launches scheduled for the first half of next year,” said company president Cristiano Amon (pictured), “we expect 5G to become a significant contributor of volume, [but] it is unlikely to have an impact on revenues until fiscal 2020.”

With the first 5G networks expected later this year, Amon said the company was working closely with AT&T, China Mobile, SKT, Verizon and Vodafone, among others.

At CES, Qualcomm’s CEO Steve Mollenkopf referred to 5G as ‘the new electricity’ and, earlier this month, at a ‘5G Day’ held at its San Diego campus, Qualcomm set out its vision for 5G and took the opportunity to demonstrate a number of 5G technological innovations.

Serge Willenegger, general manager for 4G/5G, said the company’s vision behind 5G was one of expanding cell phone capacity from billions of people to trillions of devices and that it saw 5G as a significant long-term opportunity.

The first technical foundations for 5G were laid last year, when the 3GPP industry group approved standards that will govern the way devices will connect to the new networks. It is expected that 5G will bring significantly more capacity to mobile networks and support the development of new applications associated with the IoT.

“In the same way that our early R&D work on 5G led to the accelerated completion of the first 5G NR standard for enhanced mobile broadband, [these] demonstrations highlight our continued commitment to inventing technologies that help drive the mobile ecosystem forward,” said Durga Malladi, Qualcomm Technologies’ senior vice president of engineering.

“We are working with a growing number of OEMs that have smartphone launches scheduled for the first half of next year.”
Cristiano Amon

The 5G NR – or New Radio – specification has been fast-tracked by 3GPP at the request of operators and vendors as a way to speed the deployment of 5G.

Among the demonstrations was 5G NR spectrum sharing, expected to bring better mobile broadband performance to unlicensed and shared spectrum, as well as playing an important role in extending 5G into new types of deployments, such as private networks for industrial IoT.

Private 5G networks for Industrial IoT are seen as being an important area of focus for the next phase of 3GPP 5G NR and the ability to run Industrial Ethernet over a wireless network will help to support reconfigurable factories – a crucial element of the smart factory. In an industry-first, Qualcomm also showed off a wireless Profinet industrial Ethernet running on 5G NR.

Advanced spatial domain spectrum sharing technology relies on Spatial Domain Multiplexing and Coordinated Multi-Point concepts to deliver higher network capacity and user throughput through tighter coordination among users of unlicensed and shared spectrum bands.

The role of 5G NR-based Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology in autonomous driving was also showcased. Qualcomm said the technology had been designed to help the vehicle communicate its intentions, supporting the level of predictability needed for advanced path planning.

5G NR based C-V2X is engineered to augment existing C-V2X technology with complementary capabilities, bringing high throughput and so called ultra reliable low latency communication, while maintaining backwards compatibility.

“We’re excited to showcase how our 5G technologies are helping to expand the reach of 5G NR to new industries, new deployment and business models, and new ecosystem participants,” said Malladi.