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Qualcomm outlines 5G roadmap for cellular, IoT

Posted: 04 Nov 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Qualcomm? 5G? IoT? 4G? OFDM?

Qualcomm has begun drafting its concepts for a novel radio technology needed for 5G cellular, including a low power protocol for the Internet of Things (IoT). The company is one of dozens sketching their own proposals due in March for the first round of 5G standards work.

An initial phase of standards for next-generation cellular networks are expected to be released in late 2018 with a second phase a year later. The 3GPP group oversees much of the work held a kick-off meeting in late September where 550 delegates heard presentations from a 70 companies and organisations working to define 5G.

"We are designing a network for a future we don't know," said John Smee, a senior director of engineering at Qualcomm Research, heading up the company's technical work on 5G. "It's like our work on 4G ten years ago when people carried flip phones to the meetings and thought about a network capable of downloading video," he stated.

The 5G vision spans a variety of uses from smartphones to new low- latency mission critical services to drones and head-mounted displays. "You see people thinking beyond the smartphone, so it's an interesting time of reflection," said Smee.

5G will require a new air interface to support a variety of higher bandwidth and lower latency services. For its part, Qualcomm is proposing a family of interfaces mostly based on existing orthogonal frequency-division modulation (OFDM), but adding support for multi-user massive MIMO for higher spectrum bands and a non-orthogonal technique it calls Resource Spread Multiple Access (RSMA) for lower bands and IoT uses.

"It's not a new waveform but an expansion of OFDM for wider use cases with a family of numerologies with scaled tone spacing," said Smee. "No one numerology fits all use cases, but a family of three or four numerologies [can provide] a checkerboard of design parameters to let systems be optimised" for different cell sizes and frequency bands, he said.

The approach includes support for a multiplexing technique that would let transmissions demanding low latency pre-empt other traffic. In this way 5G is expected to open up new uses in industrial and medical applications, for example.

Release 15 standard

A Release 15 standard in late 2018 could set the stage for 5G cellular services starting in 2020, Qualcomm noted.

RSMA pitched as 5G IoT protocol

Qualcomm proposes its RSMA technology as an exception to OFDM for IoT. The company believes its approach will enable devices to transmit small amounts of data with minimal signaling overhead, using a single carrier for some uplinks. RSMA supports mobile devices as well as mesh networking on downlinks and "network-assisted" meshing on uplink traffic.

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