Chipset giant Qualcomm has unveiled a 5G new radio (NR) mmWave prototype that fits into a smartphone-sized block and is designed to handle speeds of up to 5Gbps.
To break down some of the dense technical wording there — 5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. The standards for 5G have yet to be finalized, but are in the works. Currently, standards body 3GPP is working on ‘Release-15’ specifications.
5G NR, specifically, is the developing global standard for a new air interface designed to support future tech use cases, spectrum and devices. It uses orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM), a digital multi-carrier modulation method that’s used to carry data on multiple parallel data streams.
Finally, mmWave, or millimeter wave, refers to spectrum bands above 24GHz — higher frequency spectrum that doesn’t propagate as far as lower bands but can provide extremely fast speeds and high throughput.
The 5G new radio (NR) mmWave prototype fits into a smartphone-sized block and is designed to handle speeds of up to 5Gbps.
In a press release, Qualcomm says its prototype system will employ multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) technology — multiple antennas that allow for simultaneous transfer and receipt. This setup also allows for adaptive analog beamforming and beam tracking/steering techniques, which, as the name implies, means spectrum forming into a beam that can be focused in exactly the right direction — ideal for intense but short-range mmWave spectrum.
It has support, too, for 800MHz bandwidth and other advanced 5G NR technologies including LDPC channel coding. Altogether, Qualcomm states the prototype is “designed to support peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second.”
The company says it’ll use what it learns from testing this prototype to drive the development of its Snapdragon X50 5G modem family in time for the expected commercial 5G network launches in 2019.
The prototype system will be used in upcoming 3GPP-based 5G NR interoperability testing and over-the-air trials with telco infrastructure vendors and network operators starting in the second half of 2017, according to the company, which also notes that it will give mobile manufacturers a chance to begin optimizing their devices for the “unique challenges” associated with integrating 5G NR mmWave tech in handheld devices.
Demonstrations of Qualcomm Technologies’ mmWave and sub-6 GHz prototype systems are currently on display at Mobile World Congress Americas.