Qualcomm, Fujitsu validate sub-6 GHz 5G carrier aggregation

Qualcomm 5G
The connection was established using non-standalone (NSA) architecture. (FierceWireless)

Fujitsu and Qualcomm Technologies are lauding their ability to complete a 5G New Radio (NR) data call with multi-gigabit connection using sub-6 GHz carrier aggregation.

The connection was established using non-standalone (NSA) architecture, aggregating non-contiguous spectrum on 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz bands. The demonstration, done in Japan, used a Fujitsu 5G NR base station and a 5G smartphone form factor test device powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System.

They were able to achieve more than 3 Gbps speeds in this demo. Qualcomm says its Snapdragon X55 system can support peak speeds up to 5 Gbps by aggregating 200 MHz across select 5G sub-6 GHz bands.

Carrier aggregation is a technique used to increase the data rate per user, whereby multiple frequency blocks, called component carriers (CC), are assigned. It’s proven to be a valuable tool in the LTE world and it’s expected to do the same and maybe even more in 5G.

RELATED: Verizon pledges 5x more small cells in 2020

During its investor meeting in February, Verizon CTO Kyle Malady said most of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband deployments involved four carriers, but it’s aiming to double that, with eight CC in field tests. Indeed, Verizon later that month announced a trial that took place in Texas using a commercial network cell site, aggregating 800 MHz of 28 GHz band spectrum using Samsung Network’s 5G NR access unit and a Motorola smartphone powered by Qualcomm technology.  

LightShed analysts Walter Piecyk and Joe Galone have said they think Verizon could have a “critical 5G marketing advantage” with an iPhone launch later this year thanks to the combination of two key wireless technologies developed by Qualcomm: dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) and carrier aggregation.

RELATED: Verizon’s 5G strategy will combine DSS with carrier aggregation, says LightShed

“The combination of DSS and Carrier Aggregation might be the best concoction since Gin and Tonic, as long as you are prepared for the hangover,” they wrote in a blog last month. “When combined, these technologies will enable Verizon to not only activate the 5G indicator on new 5G enabled iPhones, but also actually deliver industry leading 5G speeds across a broad coverage area. The phone reviewers are going to love it, especially relative to what we expect AT&T and T-Mobile to be offering at that time.”

Meanwhile, Qualcomm said it expects commercial devices featuring carrier aggregation capabilities and powered by its Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System to be available later this year.

It's worth noting that the demonstration with Fujitsu was done using sub-6 GHz spectrum and achieved using the Snapdragon X55. Qualcomm expects to build on that achievement with the Snapdragon X60 Modem-RF System, which is dubbed the world's first 5G Modem-RF System to support spectrum aggregation across all key 5G bands and combinations, including mmWave and sub-6 using frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD). Smartphones with that solution are expected in early 2021.