Qualcomm unveils 5G NR mmWave smartphone prototype

Mobile chip maker Qualcomm has come up with a testing platform designed to enable 5G New Radio OTA trials within weeks.

As with all ‘pre-5G’ announcements, this one is qualified with ‘3GPP-based’ in case you think they’ve gone mad and decided to invent their own version of 5G. This 5G NR platform operates in spectrum bands above 24 GHz, which Qualcomm is referring to as millimetre wave despite that generally accepted as 30 GHz up.

This being Qualcomm the press release is littered with statements that amount to “this all just goes to show how great we are”. While it’s understood that this is the essence of most press releases, a bit of subtlety never hurt anyone. Among the generic self-promotion is the revelation that this system is designed to road-test 5G NR communication in a smartphone form-factor, dealing with challenges such as hand-blocking of the signal with technologies such as beam tracking/steering.

“We are delivering on the promise of developing 5G NR mmWave technologies to enhance mobile broadband services,” said Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Our 5G NR mmWave prototype system is proving that sustained mobile broadband communications and smartphone form-factor devices are progressing for 2019 launches — another powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued leadership in developing next generation wireless technologies that push the boundaries of what is possible.”

Qualcomm has decided to share some of this awesomeness with Nokia, joining forces to try to accelerate 5G NR interoperability testing. Qualcomm did a survey recently that concluded half of consumers want a 5G phone, which it’s using as evidence that we need to get a move on. The testing will see the above Qualcomm prototype play nice with the ‘Nokia 5G FIRST solution’ to show off the full range of NR cleverness.

“The appetite for 5G technology is clear, amongst both consumers and communications service providers,” said Marc Rouanne, president of mobile networks, Nokia. “We firmly share Qualcomm’s view that the demand for wide-scale mobile 5G is accelerating, and that is why we are so enthusiastic to work jointly with Qualcomm on developing and driving commercial technology and applications based on 5G NR using our 5G FIRST.”

Amon also commented on this but it was more of the same. The testing is going to kick off later this later this year and is expected to involve operators around the world next year in the build up to the big Release 15 announcement in the second half of 2018. Here’s the latest 3GPP timeline that sort of clarifies things, we suppose.

3GPP release 15 timeline

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