Qualcomm says it was able to complete 5G data calls that combine millimeter wave (mmWave) with FDD or TDD sub-6 GHz spectrum by using 5G Standalone (SA) mode dual connectivity.
The demonstration used the Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System and QTM545 mmWave antenna module inside a smartphone form-factor device.
Engineers first aggregated 5G sub-6 GHz FDD with 28 GHz, then sub-6 GHz TDD spectrum with 39 GHz, demonstrating Snapdragon X65’s ability to “aggregate low-/mid- and high-bands across key global combinations,” Qualcomm said.
Qualcomm didn’t identify exactly which sub-6 GHz spectrum bands were used. The data calls were done in a Qualcomm lab in San Diego on March 17, 2021, using 5G network emulation solutions from Keysight Technologies.
According to Qualcomm, spectrum aggregation, including dual connectivity using mmWave and sub-6 GHz frequencies, is critical to delivering multi-Gigabit speeds and massive capacity. Dual connectivity is a form of spectrum aggregation.
Longer term, using carrier aggregation is a great way for operators to sort of extend the coverage of their mmWave bands, according to Ignacio Contreras, senior director of 5G Marketing at Qualcomm. The uplink is done with low- or mid-band spectrum, which offers better coverage than mmWave, and the downlink is handled via the higher-band spectrum, which offers the wider lanes for faster traffic.
Any operator will look to make the best use of the spectrum assets they have, and aggregating spectrum is a very proven method to do that, he said.
Having this capability for mmWave is important as more regions around the world adopt mmWave for 5G. According to Qualcomm data, more than 150 operators around the world are investing in mmWave.
Qualcomm said the Snapdragon X65 and Qualcomm QTM545 mmWave Antenna Module are currently sampling to customers. Commercial devices are expected to launch later in 2021.
Ericsson also is touting 5G milestones this week, including a 5G dual connectivity test that used a device with a MediaTek M80 5G modem.