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Qualcomm launches 5G RAN platform focused on mmWave deployments

US mobile chip giant Qualcomm has continued its interest in the radio access side of things with a platform that claims to combine the best of macro and small cell technology.

It’s simply called the Qualcomm Compact Macro 5G RAN Platform, the name indicating this ‘best of both worlds’ spin. The company reckons it already knows a thing or two about small cells, as manifested in its FSM 5G RAN Platform. Into that mix Qualcomm has thrown the kind of antenna technology it reckons you would normally find in full macro cells to achieve what it’s positioning as an optimal blend for transmitting millimetre wave 5G signals.

So much so that the Compact Macro 5G RAN Platform claims to more than double the range of the FSM platform. What’s more, the 256 antennae deliver ‘up to 60dBm of peak EIRP and up to 1 GHz of spectrum.’ These increased range and capacity features are also being positioned as providing cost savings since, in principle, they should enable the deployment of fewer cells to achieve an adequate level of coverage.

“This innovative solution will streamline deployments and accelerate mmWave adoption by providing the range, performance, energy efficiency and form factor our partners need at an attractive price point,” said Durga Malladi, GM of cellular modems and infrastructure at Qualcomm.  “We’re thrilled to extend our technology leadership and expertise to help the ecosystem fully realize the benefits of mmWave for outdoor 5G networks.”

We’ll see about that, Durga. Compared to the traditional frequency bands used for mobile networks mmWave has lots of disadvantages, principally around range and propagation. Qualcomm rightly identifies fixed wireless access as a core use-case for this product but relying on mmWave for general mobile coverage, outside of exceptionally constrained environments like airports and stadia, still feels like a bit of a reach.

 

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