Now that there’s a non-standalone 5G NR standard in place, how has the rest of the telecom industry aligned to support promised commercial rollouts as early as the second half of 2018? Serge Willenegger, Qualcomm SVP and GM of 4G/5G and Industrial IoT took stock during a recent media and analyst event at the company’s San Diego headquarters.

“The bottomline is…5G, as we have it defined in the first wave, is very relevant to trends we’re seeing in the consumer space. We’re pretty confident that the adoption is going to come as soon as we put this capability in the hands of the user and the ecosystem around it.  We have use case, we have network, we have silicon, we will have devices.”

The standard

In December the 3GPP finalized the non-standalone 5G NR standard, which uses the LTE core and radio networks along with a 5G carrier. When the standard-setting body adopted the standard at a meeting in Portugal, TSG RAN Chairman Balazs Bertenyi described the non-standalone variant as the “first drop” of the complete 5G NR standard and described it as “primarily guided by the early adopters, by the early deployment plans of operators in different regions and those early deployment plans really call for a mobile broadband boost.”


The use case

5G contemplates three primary use cases, and Bertenyi called out the one poised to come to market first–enhanced mobile broadband. The other two primary use cases are massive support for the internet of things and mission critical communications that take advantage of the ultra-low-latency and high-capacity 5G will provide. Ahead of 5G, operators are deploying LTE Advanced Pro features to provide gigabit-class LTE networks; this will provide a surround for early 5G deployments so users can have a relatively consistent experience as they move in and out of 5G hot spots.

The network

To get an idea of the vendor excitement around the prospect of starting to sell 5G NR equipment at scale, consider that in the little more than a month since 3GPP’s Dec. 21 adoption, both Ericsson and Nokia have announced end-to-end product support.

Nokia’s Future X architecture, along with ReefShark chipsets, will support early operator deployments, as will Ericsson’s new release, which also notes that Ericsson equipment made from 2015 and forward can be upgraded to NSA 5G NR with a software installation.

The silicon

Qualcomm announced this week that its X50 modem will be used by more than a dozen device OEMs to bring the smartphone piece of the 5G equation to reality. This month the X50 modem supported 4.51 Gbps throughput using a millimeter wave radio link.

Those OEMs are: ASUS, Fujitsu, hmd, HTC, Inseego, LG, NetComm Wireless, Netgear, OPPO, Sharp, Sierra Wireless, Sony, Telit, Vivo, WNC, Wingtech, mi and ZTE.

Qualcomm is also working with a broad range of carrier partners on commercializing NSA 5G NR: AT&T, BT, China Telecom, China Mobile, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, KT, LGU+, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SingTel, SK Telecom, Sprint, Telstra, TIM, Verizon and Vodafone Group.

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