Qualcomm's Chen elected as chair of 3GPP RAN Working Group 1

Qualcomm building
Having pioneered CDMA, Qualcomm has a long history of working with wireless standards organizations.

Wanshi Chen, principal engineer and manager at Qualcomm Technologies, was elected as chair of 3GPP RAN Working Group 1 this week at a 3GPP meeting (RAN1#90) held in Prague, Czech Republic.

3GPP RAN1 is responsible for the specification of the physical layer of the radio Interface (radio layer 1) for 5G NR—the global 5G standard for a unified, more capable air interface, as well as continued advancements in 4G LTE (LTE Advanced Pro)—according to Lorenzo Casaccia, vice president of Technical Standards at Qualcomm, who made the announcement in a blog post.

This particular working group looks at the most fundamental design aspects of the air interface, and the advancements it develops will play an essential role in achieving the vision for 5G, according to Casaccia.

“These advanced technologies include OFDM-based waveforms, advanced channel coding, MIMO antenna techniques, multiple access technologies, new device-to-device communications techniques, new narrowband IoT technologies, V2X communications, relays, broadcast, and much more,” Casaccia wrote.

Wanshi Chen
Wanshi Chen

Chen, who joined Qualcomm in 2006, has been heavily engaged in the design of LTE and actively contributed to its development. He was elected by his peers, which, judging by this list, includes a who’s who in 3GPP, or wireless for that matter. The Working Group elections are open to all members within that group; if a company isn’t in RAN1, they don’t vote.

Chen has had continuous attendance in 3GPP RAN1 meetings for more than nine years, dating back to 3GPP Release-8, which introduced 4G LTE. Over the last four years, Chen has successfully served as 3GPP RAN1 vice chairman, managing a wide range of RAN1 sessions on 5G NR and LTE Advanced Pro.

“It is a great honor for me to be elected by my 3GPP peers and I look forward to leading the technical work in 3GPP RAN1 as we continue progress on specifications for 5G NR and advancements to LTE," Chen said in a statement. "This is a very exciting time in 3GPP as we evolve and expand the mobile ecosystem to connect new industries, new services, and new user experiences. I look forward to continuing to manage and lead 3GPP RAN1 through solid technical discussions and decision making, in a fair, effective, and efficient manner.”

Qualcomm’s seat at the 3GPP RAN1 table comes after many years of leadership in the standards community, starting with CDMA more than 25 years ago, when GSM had little competition until Qualcomm’s inventions came along. Cellular/PCS licensees in the U.S. at that time said they were happy to have a choice of technologies, which included TDMA, rather than have a technology mandated to them.

Qualcomm Europe’s Dino Flore recently completed his successful chairmanship of the 3GPP TSG RAN (Aug. 2013 through March 2017), leading the evolution from LTE to 5G. He’s currently serving as the director general of the 5G Automotive Association, which is also a member of 3GPP.

RELATED: Qualcomm: ‘Gaming’ of 3GPP system in 5G standards-setting process is counterproductive

Casaccia recently completed a series of blog posts to explain how 3GPP works—it’s as complicated or more so than one might expect—and pointed out that some companies are trying to game the system by making far more contributions than necessary. That is, rather than submit one quality submission, they’re making multiple contributions, leading some chairs to put a cap on the number of contributions a company can submit.

Qualcomm would rather measure 3GPP leadership by a company’s ability to drive the evolution and expansion of the cellular ecosystem forward in new directions, and that starts with the quality of contributions from 3GPP members. One example that Qualcomm likes to point to is its own contributions on LAA, which introduced the use of cellular technologies into unlicensed spectrum. Work in 3GPP first began on LAA in 2014, and it’s now starting to see commercial success as a key underlying technology to deliver Gigabit LTE.