Qualcomm has announced that it has completed its first successful 5G connection based on the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications that have been developed by 3GPP and are expected to become the standard for 5G going forward. The connection was achieved using a Qualcomm sub-6 GHz 5G NR prototype system and one which Qualcomm expects to be used during the company’s over-the-air (OTA) 5G NR trials and testing that is expected to commence in the second half of this year. This is the same prototype system that Qualcomm first introduced in the summer of 2016, although today marks the public confirmation that a successful connection was made using the prototype.
As part of the successful connection, Qualcomm is looking to firstly, demonstrate how efficiently multi-gigabit-per-second data rates can be achieved and secondly, how they can be achieved with a lower latency rate, compared to the current 4G standards. Qualcomm’s announcement today not only confirms their successful connection, but is also meant as a clear indication of Qualcomm’s continued commitment to establishing itself as one of the leading forces in the development of 5G. A point highlighted by Qualcomm’s Executive Vice President and CTO, Matt Grob, during today’s announcement. With Grob noting that as well as marking a 5G development milestone, “this first 5G NR connection is a powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued leadership in developing next generation wireless technologies that drive and track 3GPP standardization”.
For background and to all purposes, 5G NR is essentially ‘5G’ as it is commonly understood. NR is simply the naming that has been attributed by the 3GPP as part of the unifying and standardization process of the specification. Much like how ‘LTE’ has been attached to 4G. What is critical here though is the wide variety of use cases which are available to 5G NR. This is a specification which will look to standardize connections between everything. Which is one of the clear differences between 5G and its predecessors. This wide level of usage is why Qualcomm has focused on spectrum bands in the sub-6 GHz sector (namely, 3.3 GHz to 5.0 GHz), as it is likely this is where a number of the use cases will overlap and where coverage of all of those uses will be most needed. In reality, as 5G will be unifying everything (cars, smartphones, wearables, to name a few examples), 5G will make use of multiple spectrum levels, including low bands, mid bands, and millimeter-wave (mmWave). Today’s announcement simply marks the next milestone on the road to 5G. Albeit, an important one in the development process.