Today at its 5G Summit in San Diego, California, Qualcomm announced that it has achieved a significant milestone in the evolution of 5G wireless network connectivity and the future of ubiquitous wireless broadband services. Powered by the company’s new Snapdragon X70 5G modem platform that was recently announced at Mobile World Congress in February, Qualcomm demonstrated the world’s first standalone mmWave (Millimeter Wave) 5G connection, with download speeds of up to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second). However, this announcement was significant in many other ways, beyond just blocks of impressive wireless network bandwidth and speeds of 8.3 gigabits per second (Gbps).
mmWave standalone and why it’s a game-changer
Standalone mmWave 5G is a fairly straightforward technology by the name itself, but achieving this feat has been anything but trivial. 5G mmWave operates on much higher cellular network frequency ranges, at 24 GHz and above. Although it does not have the same long reach as sub-6 GHz low-spectrum cellular technology and requires a more dense distribution of cellular base stations and specialized antenna tuning, due to the penetration and blocking of buildings, foliage and other potential obstacles, it offers massive multi-gigabit bandwidth, capacity advantages And low latency compared to 5GHz sub-6GHz technology.
In terms of Qualcomm’s Standalone mmWave achievements today, market impact could be even more significant. Standalone 5G mmWave deployments will coexist with traditional non-standalone (NSA) mmWave networks and 5G sub-6 networks for some time, but standalone 5G mmWave technology will allow carriers to deploy higher-bandwidth 5G mmWave networks, and the devices they use in standalone mode, without the need for Anchor Spectrum sub-6 GHz. In short, this gives wireless carriers and operators more flexibility to not only deploy 5G mmWave services in more areas, but also access to wireless fiber broadband.
And in my opinion, wireless fiber broadband access is a game changer in many ways. In short, wireless fiber broadband uses existing high-speed fiber networks, such as Verizon Fios for example, for backhaul network connections to the central office (CO), while standalone mmWave 5G networks provide the “last mile” or crucial leap for the residential or commercial broadband customer. The term last mile is a euphemism for the days of broadband networks that are gone, because getting a fiber broadband connection to the home used to be a major problem that needed solving. These days, fiber broadband operators struggle to reach that quarter or even a tenth of a mile of fiber to reach the customer, but that’s where 5G Standalone mmWave comes to their rescue. 5G Standalone mmWave base stations and 5G wireless access points will provide customers with multi-gigabit wireless connections (Wi-Fi and cellular), for this crucial last step that would not otherwise have been possible.
The launch will take some time, but as wireless fiber broadband operators begin to deploy services in underserved rural and suburban areas, or in areas where there is little competition for existing operators, a new competitive landscape will emerge with new business models, use cases and opportunities. “The Snapdragon X70 gives operators the ability to deliver ultra-high 5G capacity, multi-Gigabit data speeds, and new use cases across devices from smartphones to laptops, fixed wireless access equipment, industrial machinery, and more,” Durga Mladi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cellular Modem and Infrastructure, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
New Smart Bus 3.0 and 5G aggregation features
Another feature of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X70 Modem-RF is the so-called Smart Transmit 3.0. The technology uses a modem for an antenna awareness system that improves uplink speeds when a client device needs them, but also conserves power and maintains compliance with RF energy transmission limits, as needed. So, when you need that fast burst of speed to upload a video or image, it’s available, but when it’s not required, the wireless transmission is dynamically optimized so that power can be conserved, which also helps maintain consistent and reliable network performance. Finally, Qualcomm now also incorporates Smart Transmit dynamic optimization for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity as well, along with accompanying Qualcomm FastConnect chip technologies.
Some additional announcements at today’s Qualcomm 5G Summit were further discussions around AI-enabled adaptive antenna tuning and channel state feedback optimization, as well as AI-based mmWave package formation and network selection, to improve the 5G performance of the new Snapdragon X70 modem. RF system. The company also offered carriers pooling of 5G sub-6GHz over three TDD (Time Division Duplex Operator Links – used in dense 5G deployments) channels, providing download speeds of up to 6Gbps. Sub-6 carrier aggregation will be critical in areas where cellular operators want to serve customers at multi-Gigabit speeds, even though they are far from the cellular base station, such as in extended rural or suburban areas.
Finally, it looks like Qualcomm is continuing its tradition of driving 5G roll-out innovations with its new Snapdragon X70 5G Modem-RF system and various demos on display at the 5G Summit in sunny San Diego. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X70 is currently sampling for customers, with commercial mobile devices based on the Snapdragon X70 expected to arrive by late 2022. However, 5G network services such as wireless fiber broadband access are likely to take years to roll out, although The wheels are in final motion.