Qualcomm has been promoting 5G New Radio as a way to accelerate the deployment of next-generation technologies, and now the chipmaker is at work on 5G NR small cells. Qualcomm Technologies will collaborate with Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a non-profit organization engaged in applied research and technical services. Taiwanese manufacturers have been key to the development of the small cell ecosystem, Qualcomm said, and have worked with the company in the past on 3G and 4G small cell products.
Now the collaboration will extend to 5G. 5G NR, also called non-standalone 5G, uses existing LTE radios and evolved packet core networks to enable the control functions of the network, while adding a new 5G radio access carrier to enable certain data use cases. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is expected to include 5G NR specifications in its upcoming Release 15, and is also studying the use of 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum.
Qualcomm intends to be ready to move to market quickly once a standard is finalized, and small cells are an important part of its strategy. The enhanced mobile broadband experiences that 5G will deliver, like high-speed video downloads and fast access to cloud-based applications, will rely in part on radios that are close to the end users, and this means operators will need to deploy small cells, especially in dense urban environments where data demand is high.
“Small cells will be a key component of 5G networks, delivering enhanced performance utilizing both [millimeter wave]and sub 6 GHz spectrum, and we are looking forward to working closely with Qualcomm Technologies as a global leader in end-to-end 5G development,” said Dr. Tzi-Cker Chiueh, general director for the information and communication labs at ITRI. He said the partnership with Qualcomm will give ITRI early access to a live network test bed and place Taiwan in a leadership position with respect to 5G.
ITRI named three Taiwanese companies that are expected to be part of the collaboration with Qualcomm. They are telecom equipment maker Sercomm, router maker Zyxel, and MitraStar, a maker of customer premise equipment for mobile and fixed broadband networks.