Qualcomm shows off new tech for shared spectrum, private networks in 5G

Qualcomm’s Yongbin Wei shows off the company's shared spectrum demonstration for 5G.

Qualcomm said it is working on new technologies in the 5G sphere that could significantly boost users’ speeds as well as create new opportunities for providers. The company plans to demonstrate the new efforts at the upcoming Mobile World Congress trade show happening later this month in Barcelona, Spain.

Qualcomm showed off a number of new technologies, but its 5G shared spectrum demonstration contained perhaps the most interesting results. The company said that, by implementing technologies including Coordinated Multi-Point (COMP) and Spatial Domain Multiplexing (SDM), it could increase users’ speeds by a factor of three.

“This is designed to deliver higher network capacity and user throughput, through tighter coordination among users of unlicensed and shared spectrum bands,” Qualcomm said in a release. “The demonstration utilized the previously announced Qualcomm Technologies 5G NR spectrum sharing prototype system, which is also designed to support testing of 5G NR operation in unlicensed spectrum, both licensed-assisted access (LAA) and standalone operation without a licensed anchor, also known as 5G MulteFire.”

Specifically, the company’s demonstration focused on how individual users within a wireless cell could essentially obtain their own line of service that wouldn’t be affected by other users in the same cell. Although each user could have their own line, they would still be sharing the same spectrum within the designated cell.

Qualcomm’s Yongbin Wei said the technology could be made available for commercial use in Release 16 of the 3GPP, which is scheduled to be completed in December of next year. He said the technology could be used in both millimeter-wave bands as well as lower bands.

But spectrum sharing was just one element of Release 16 that Qualcomm demonstrated. It also showed off a private 5G wireless network that the company said would allow providers to offer industrial Ethernet over a wireless network. And it also demonstrated a Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology that the company said would support autonomous driving.

In other Qualcomm news, the company announced its new Snapdragon X24 LTE modem. The company said the modem supports speeds of up to 2 Gbps on LTE networks. The company added that the modem would be demonstrated at the MWC show with Ericsson, Netgear and Telstra. The modem is noteworthy as it offers operators ways to increase speeds available on their LTE networks ahead of the launch of 5G -- but users likely won't see real-world speeds of 2 Gpbs due to factors including the spectrum available to operators and the user's physical distance from a cell site.

Separately, Qualcomm also announced what it is calling “wireless edge services” that will work with the company’s IoT-focused device chipsets. The company said the new services would allow providers to remotely access its IoT chips and update them with specific features and functions. For example, using the new offering, providers could securely activate LTE M capabilities on a device that was initially sold specifically for NB-IoT network applications. Qualcomm said the offering would sit alongside IoT device management services from third-party vendors.

Article updated Feb. 14 with additional information from Qualcomm.