The focus at this year’s Hot Chips symposium shifted from silicon to cellular for an hour as Qualcomm CTO Matt Grob spoke about the coming jump to 5G and how the next-generation communication standard will build on and advance beyond the capabilities of LTE.
Grob explained that 5G will allow new industries and new services to access a network that is scalable, edgeless and unified by design from the start. The scalable 5G network will support varied services, from low-power sensors to traditional broadband to mission-critical services. Grob observed that on existing networks, “you can’t do real medical procedures like surgery.” 5G will make support for such services an inherent part of the network, enabling new opportunities.
5G will be edgeless by designing in robust peer-to-peer connectivity from the start. Similarly, the unified 5G network will be designed from the start to use all spectrum efficiently. With significant peak rate requirements being considered for 5G, Grob stated that he was often asked if there was a Moore’s law equivalent of cellular performance. He explained that “networks can still get an order of magnitude better performance” by implementing techniques such as densification and coordinated MIMO, among others.
These advancements will be enabled by a unified air interface that can scale as required by the current service need. Grob expressed that this air interface will be based on OFDM just as 4G is today and support robust multi-connectivity to provide reliability, redundancy and backward compatibility with existing 4G and Wi-Fi systems.
But Grob also explained that 4G won’t rest until 2020—LTE Advanced has plenty of innovation ahead of it—when the 5G standard is scheduled to make its debut. Enhancements such as LTE Broadcast are being deployed today, while others such as LTE Direct proximal communication and LTE in unlicensed spectrum are on the roadmap.
Grob spent time helping the audience understand the benefits of LTE in unlicensed spectrum, including MulteFire. By bringing the benefits of cellular modem performance and efficiencies of OFDM, LTE-U systems can see a 2x improvement in performance. Wi-Fi users will also see their performance improve because LTE deployments are designed for coexistence.
These technologies and more are part of Qualcomm’s effort to provide the connectivity fabric of everything, said Grob, and they will be a key to the development of the Internet of Everything and begin paving the way to 5G.
When asked if there were new participants in the development of the 5G standard, Grob was quick to agree, listing diverse industries such as automotive, medical and robotics, stating “it is going to be more inclusive than ever.”