Qualcomm: We're working at a feverish pace to develop 5G tech

Prior to last week's unanimous FCC vote to open up vast amounts of millimeter wave spectrum for 5G, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) had all kinds of suggestions for how it should be implemented. But the day after the historic vote, it was more interested in savoring the moment.

"What really matters here is that number one, 5G's happening, and number two, the FCC has a bipartisan consensus to move the spectrum forward in the United States," said Dean Brenner, senior vice president of government affairs at Qualcomm. That consensus extends to the millimeter wave spectrum, as well as a recognition that 5G is going to require low band, mid band and high band spectrum, which syncs up with the work Qualcomm has been doing on the technical end, he told FierceWirelessTech on Friday.

Qualcomm for years has been conducting research in the 28 GHz band and it has developed a 5G mmWave prototype system operating in the 28 GHz band using wide bandwidths, capable of providing multi-gigabit per second connectivity. Its prototype system includes adaptive beamforming and beam-tracking techniques which it said enable sustained communications even in non-line-of-sight environments and with device mobility. While Qualcomm's system is already being field tested at 28 GHz today, it's also designed to support tests and trials at other millimeter wave spectrum bands in the future, such as the 32 GHz band being considered in Europe.

Last month, Qualcomm unveiled a new 5G New Radio (NR) prototype system and trial platform for the sub-6 GHz spectrum bands. It was on view during the Mobile World Congress Shanghai in China, an important market for Qualcomm, where there's a lot of talk about using spectrum below 6 GHz for 5G.

Being a global company, Qualcomm is working with operators around the world on 5G. But it's clear that the FCC is demonstrating a leadership position, enunciating a clear vision to drive 5G in the United States and to establish 5G as an important national priority. "To me, that's a huge development," Brenner said, noting that it was done no less in an election year in July, just before the Republican National Convention convenes in Cleveland this week.

While there's been a slew of partisan issues in front of the FCC of late, it just goes to show: "There is not a Democratic 5G or a Republican 5G. There is just 5G," Brenner said.

Qualcomm is an affiliate sponsor of NYU Wireless, where founding director Ted Rappaport and his students conducted pioneering millimeter wave research that contributed to the FCC's proceeding. Rappaport and his students deserve "huge credit" for all their work in this area, Brenner said. 

Although the exact number isn't known, Qualcomm is working with operators around the world, including Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and others in the United States, on 5G tests and trials. "We're working at a feverish pace to develop the technology" and products to implement the technology, he said. "We're going to get it out there as soon as possible."

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