Qualcomm, China Mobile, and ZTE show 5G data interoperability

-November 22, 2017

Qualcomm Technologies, China Mobile, and ZTE have succeeded in developing first 5G New Radio (NR) end-to-end data interoperability testing system based on the rapidly forming 3GPP R15 standard, the first stage of which is to be in draft form in just a few weeks. The system will be demonstrated at China Mobile Global Partner Conference this week (November 23).

The interoperability test system comes as EETimes launches its own 5G Boot Camp, a three-day interactive course with two of the world’s most respected experts on 5G: Dr. Jeffrey Reed of Virginia Tech and Dr. Nishith Tripathi, of Award Solutions, Inc.

That Qualcomm would be part of the first demonstration to show end-to-end interoperability should come as no surprise as it led the push toward the incorporation of 5G-NR into the 3GPP standards effort. In fact, one of its engineers is leading the 3GPP 5G group. Other early 5G-NR advocates include NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, AT&T, and Vodaphone.

The initial non-standalone (NSA) draft of 5G-NR, which will use LTE as the control plane instead of requiring operators to perform a full forklift upgrade at the edge, is scheduled for completion by the 3GPP group in December. The group will be meeting in Lisbon from December 18 to 21.

The announcement of the Interoperability Data Testing (IoDT) system is a crucial milestone along the path for 5G, but begs questions as to how flexible it is, given that the standard is still in flux (Figure 1). Already, the 3GPP group realized that it would have to scale back expectations (see “5G hits reality as 3GPP postpones features”) in large part due to the sheer number of frequency bands which require extensive simulation.

Figure 1
Qualcomm, ZTE, and China Mobile have developed an end-to-end 5G data interoperability system. (Image source: Qualcomm)

The IoTD system as it stands now operates in the 3.5-GHz band using Qualcomm’s sub-6-GHz UE prototype, with a bandwidth of 100 MHz. It complies with the 3GPP Release-15 5G NR layer 1 framework, which includes scalable OFDM, advanced channel coding and modulation, and the self-contained slot structure that is designed to get latencies down to 1 ms.

Though the standards have yet to solidify, commercial deployments that take advantage of many of the features of 5G are already being added to existing LTE networks, which are extending the longevity of these “legacy” networks. This is allowing operators to maximize their return on current infrastructure and put off full-fledged 5G deployments.

Just how operators could and should roll out 5G is just one question that Dr. Jeffrey Reed and Dr. Nishith Tripathi will be answering in their 3-hour course, “5G Boot Camp: What You Need to Know Now.” Part of EETimes’ University series, the course takes place over three days at 12 noon ET (9 am Pacific) on November 28, 29, 30. It’s interactive, so bring your questions, both Dr. Reed and Dr. Tripathi are experts and lecturers on the topic of wireless and 5G.

Dr. Reed founded Wireless @ Virginia Tech and the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology, and Dr. Tripathi is principal consultant at Award Solutions, Inc., which specializes in technical consulting and specialized training in areas such as 5G, NFV, SDN, LAA, LTE-U, LTE-M, and other wireless technologies.

The scope of the three-hour course is wide, starting with a solid grounding in what 5G is all about, and how it changes network operating principles, performance, and efficiency. It will also look at usage scenarios, including enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC), and massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).

Day 2 is all about the building blocks of 5G. Attendees are promised a useful examination of air interface enhancements, network architecture enhancements, and virtualization technologies. Reed and Tripathi also will get into the new air interface features such as massive MIMO, millimeter wave spectrum, and flexible numerology and frame structure. Network architecture aspects, such as NG-RAN, Cloud-RAN, Multi-access/Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), network slicing, and 5G core will also be discussed, supported by a brief introduction to automation and virtualization technologies such as NFV, SDN, and SON.

Day 3 is all about known global deployments of 5G technologies and proof-of-concept trials, so expect a good synopsis of what’s real, what truly is 5G, and what’s not.

As Qualcomm has shown, 2018 is shaping up to be a big year for 5G, from wireless to infrastructure, from components, chips, and software to system modeling, simulation, and test: now may be a good time to attend a boot camp on the subject.

5G Boot Camp: What You Need to Know Now
November 28, 29, 30 at 12 noon ET (9 am Pacific)

—Engineer Patrick Mannion manages EE Times University. In a previous life, he was an editor and publisher on EE Times and brand director for EDN. He continues to write for EDN and Electronic Products, in addition to globetrotting for AspenCore and appearing in buzz package videos.

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