As 5G commercial deployment slowly approaches, the 5G products that will empower the future are already in pre-production or in trial/testing phase, allowing both providers and operators to get a sense of their potential to enable key use cases and services. The key is to not simply wait for 5G to arrive but rather begin preparing networks now for the quality, capacity, and new functionality that 5G connectivity will bring. To do that, they need new and efficient 5G products.
Several vendors are rising to the top of 5G product development, providing a market microcosm of the essential 5G products to come. Below, we highlight offerings from Ericsson, Qualcomm, and Samsung.
5G Product Showcase: Ericsson
In early 2017, Ericsson introduced its 5G product platform, designed for the first movers in 5G. “With this launch,” said Arun Bansal, head of business unit network products at Ericsson, “we introduce our 5G product platform to support the beginning of a huge change in network capabilities, allowing our customers to offer more advanced use cases and new business models to their customers.” The Ericsson portfolio of 5G products includes the following:
- 5G Core System. The company’s first 5G Core System is capable of 5G use cases based on network slices. Network slicing allows an operator to provide dedicated virtual networks with functionality specific to the service or customer over a common network.
- 5G New Radio (NR). Ericsson added mid-band and high-band 5G radios to the 5G NR line that the company launched in 2016. Having radios available for all frequency ranges promises to globalize the benefits of 5G communications. This 5G radio portfolio will support the new standardized 5G fronthaul interface (called eCPRI). The company’s latest 5G NR product, AIR 3246, addresses Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Massive MIMO) and is Ericsson’s first 5G radio for frequency division duplex (FDD).
5G Product Showcase: Qualcomm
Qualcomm is an early leader in 5G product innovation, testing new 5G designs and building on its expertise in 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi. The company is collaborating with industry leaders to drive 3GPP 5G NR standardization. The Qualcomm portfolio of 5G products includes the following:
- 5G Modem. Designed to achieve high speeds by using very wide bandwidths available in the 28GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) band, combined with advanced signal processing technologies, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem relies on multi-element antenna arrays. The antennas work together intelligently, using beamforming and beam-tracking technologies, extending mmWave’s mobility and reach to non-line-of-sight scenarios.
- 5G NR mmWave Prototype. This prototype system, which operates in mmWave spectrum bands above 24 GHz, demonstrates how advanced 5G NR mmWave technologies can be utilized to deliver robust mobile broadband communications at multi-gigabit-per-second data rates in real-world mobile environments.
5G Product Showcase: Samsung
In February 2017, Samsung unveiled its portfolio of 5G mobile network products and solutions. “With pre-commercial deployment of our 5G products already underway in the United States,” said Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, executive vice president and head of the Next Generation Communications Business Team at Samsung, “we’re starting to see some of the earliest evidence of the potential for new and compelling 5G-driven services.” The Samsung portfolio of 5G products includes the following:
- 5G Home Router. The 5G Home Router extends the mobile network and plants a new fixed wireless network. The router allows users direct connectivity to the wireless network, with simple placement in a window facing a nearby 5G radio.
- 5G Radio Base Station. The 5G Radio Base Station is an extension of today’s LTE small cells, designed to be installed in a dense configuration that allows for very high network capacities. The system supports 28GHz mmWave spectrum and can provide up to 10-Gb/s speeds.
- Next-Generation Core. The next-generation core network infrastructure serves as the centralized point of control and direction for network traffic. With a shift to a software-driven architecture, the virtualized core gains the ability to split network resources and individual network functions to maintain peak operational efficiencies.
Network-Wide Management Systems. The network-wide management systems leverage Maintenance and Operation (MANO) systems, as well as localized virtual Element Management Systems (EMS), to ensure that each component of a network is running at peak efficiency, and in full coordination with the network overall.