Qualcomm Technologies Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, AT&T and Ericsson announced plans to conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials based on 5G New Radio (NR) specifications being developed by 3GPP, which will form the basis of the global standards. The trials intend to help move the mobile ecosystem to faster 5G deployment based on standards-compliant 5G NR infrastructure and devices once 3GPP completes the first release of the official specifications, which is expected as part of Release 15.
The trials will support operation in millimeter Wave (mmWave) spectrum, aiming to accelerate commercial deployments in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands. In the trials, the companies will showcase new 5G NR mmWave technologies that utilize wide bandwidths available at these higher frequency bands to increase network capacity and expect to achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates. These technologies will be important to meeting the increasing consumer connectivity requirements for emerging consumer mobile broadband experiences such as virtual reality, augmented reality and connected cloud services. Additionally, the proliferation of 5G NR mmWave technology can make it more cost-effective and easier for multi-gigabit internet service to reach more homes and businesses.
The trials will utilize device and base station prototype solutions from Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson respectively, along with spectrum from AT&T, to simulate real-world scenarios across a broad set of use cases and deployment scenarios. The trials will employ 3GPP 5G NR Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques to deliver robust and sustained mobile broadband communications at the higher frequency bands, including non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments and device mobility. It will also make use of scalable OFDM-based waveforms and a new flexible framework design that are also expected to be part of the 5G NR specifications. The trials are expected to yield valuable insight into the unique challenges of integrating mmWave technologies into mobile networks and devices.
The interoperability testing and trials, which are planned to launch in the United States starting in the second half of 2017, are intended to track closely with, as well as help accelerate, the first 3GPP 5G NR specification that will be part of Release 15 - the global 5G standard that will make use of both sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum bands. Tracking the 3GPP specification is important because it promotes adherence and validation with the global 5G standard, accelerating the time to standard-compliant devices and infrastructure. Focusing on the 5G NR standards also should validate that the technology will work correctly with any future 3GPP 5G NR updates.