Just 10 years ago, the world was getting its first taste of mobile broadband. Now in 2020, we are no longer just talking about the feasibility of 5G—we’re driving global commercial deployments and preparing its expansion into new devices, services, and industries.
Qualcomm Technologies sees 5G as the mobile innovation platform for this decade and beyond. That compels them to lead the 5G evolution, building upon the solid foundational technologies that were established in 3GPP Rel-15.
One year ago at MWC 2019, Qualcomm first announced their standalone end-to-end over-the-air test network operating in 3.5 GHz in San Diego. This year, they have enhanced the capability of this multi-cell, multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) network to reach 16 total layers with spectral efficiency of 50 bits/s/Hz, translating to a cell capacity of more than 5 Gbps over its 100 MHz bandwidth. From a user’s perspective, the test network can sustain a downlink throughput of ~1 Gbps at over 2000 feet from the cell site. In Rel-17, Qualcomm has successfully initiated the 3GPP study of 5G support and optimization of cloud gaming, VR, and AR; and this test network is also used to prototype boundless AR that is designed to deliver a more immersive user experience.
Qualcomm's R&D team continues to focus on longer-term 5G technology innovations; for this year, they have two system simulations that showcase future 5G capabilities and efficiencies. The first is a 5G network supporting sub-band full-duplex massive MIMO operations, which allows simultaneous transmit and receive. This is not only designed to improve the overall system flexibility and spectral efficiency, but also delivers lower latency. The second system simulation showcases new Rel-16 5G positioning techniques, combining multiple roundtrip time and angle of arrival for more accurate wide-area outdoor positioning use cases.
Like the 5G wide-area test network, Qualcomm has also expanded the capabilities of their outdoor 5G mmWave test network in San Diego. This end-to-end system, operating in the 28 GHz band, now features a deployment with distributed remote radio-heads (RRHs) and repeaters to further improve mobility and coverage. In this demonstration, we are showcasing robust handheld usage with virtually seamless handoffs among mmWave beams and RRHs. To push 5G mmWave mobility testing to the extreme, we attached a mobile test device, based on Snapdragon X50, to a drone, flew it around our campus, and saw that the mmWave connectivity was robust even at high speeds and elevations. Lastly, we are also showcasing boundless Virtual Reality (VR) that utilizes edge cloud processing for sustained ultra-low latency and high throughput.
5G mmWave technologies continue to improve, bringing more efficient deployment, enhanced mobility, and better energy efficiency. To demonstrate, we have completed three system simulations. The first showcases more cost-efficient mmWave densification for coverage expansion with integrated access and backhaul (IAB). The second simulation showcases the benefits of multiple transmission points, which allows the device to simultaneously connect to multiple cell sites, improving link reliability and performance. The last simulation examines the new device power-saving features, such as wakeup signals and reduced signaling that can extend the battery life of 5G mobile devices.
As 5G expands to new industries, it needs to support new capabilities such as time-sensitive networking (TSN) required by many real-time industrial 4.0 use cases such as factory automation. To address this, 3GPP Rel-16 added native support for TSN over 5G, which delivers precise time synchronization between 5G-connected devices. This complements the added support in Rel-16 of private networking and enhanced ultra-reliable, low-latency communication (eURLLC) that can deliver up to 99.9999% reliability with low and deterministic latency (e.g., 1 ms).
Another important new capability that is coming with 3GPP Rel-16 is enhanced 5G positioning to benefit a wide range of new vertical use cases. Staying with the theme of industrial IoT in an indoor environment, this live over-the-air demonstration showcases how 5G can provide sub-meter 3D positioning for various applications, such as asset tracking and AGV control, utilizing multiple transmission points to measure time difference of arrival.
Last year, Qualcomm showcased that 5G C-V2X cannot only make our roads safer, but also help enable advanced use cases to bring lower energy usage, faster travel and higher situational awareness. This year, Qualcomm is demonstrating some of the benefits that reliable multicast communication can bring with distance-based groups and sensor sharing introduced in Rel-16. They will be showing both an interactive simulation and an OTA prototype in a scenario, where a vehicle approaching an intersection can be notified of crossing vehicles that are not slowing down, both with and without C-V2X, in a timely manner considering both speed and distance.