Qualcomm details 5G small cell platform

Qualcomm is offering what it claims is the industry’s first 5G New Radio (5G NR) platform for small cells.

Small cells are already being used to densify 3G and 4G networks in densely populated urban areas, using high-level spectrum with short range but high capacity, but are expected to become a significant feature of 5G infrastructure.

Qualcomm’s ‘FSM100xx’ platform works with both sub-6 GHz frequencies and higher millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum.

5G small cells

Early 5G networks in the UK will make use of 3.4GHz airwaves recently auction by Ofcom, while mmWave frequencies of 24GHz and higher will be used to deliver fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband services in countries like the US. Most 5G networks will eventually make use of a combination of both, delivering the right balance of range and capacity.

Qualcomm’s small cell product allows network equipment manufacturers to reuse software and hardware designs across different types of spectrum and will help operators deliver consistent signals in urban areas and challenging indoor environments. It also offers support for MIMO and multi-gigabit throughput, while it also lowers power consumption demands and supports power over Ethernet (PoE).

A software-defined modem also means it can be upgraded to future 3GPP 5G standard releases and also lets customers choose a Radio Access Network (RAN) technology to suit their needs.

Qualcomm is already working with early access customers and it is expected to start sampling next year.

Separately, Qualcomm is also working with Facebook on high speed connectivity using the latter’s Terragraph technology. Terragraph aims to offer a rapid and reliable wireless broadband connection at the fraction of the cost of fibre. It supports mmWave backhaul on 60GHz and is one of the social network’s numerous connectivity initiatives.

“We’re excited to work with Qualcomm Technologies to advance the adoption of pre-802.11ay and 802.11ad 60GHz technologies and build a robust ecosystem of interoperable solutions based on Terragraph,” said Yael Maguire, head of connectivity, Facebook. “With Terragraph, our goal is to enable people living in urban areas to access high-quality connectivity that can help create new opportunities and strengthen communities.”

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.