The mobile industry moves fast. Every new phone is more powerful than the previous model; every network better than the one that came before.
Each incremental improvement shapes our relationship with the technology and devices we use every day. But every decade or so, there is a major transition that redefines how mobile works — and what mobile is. When Qualcomm invented 3G technologies, we helped bring broadband internet access to a device that had mainly been used to make phone calls, unlocking an entirely new mobile world. When we ushered in the era of 4G LTE, mobile video delivery took off and the number of mobile broadband connections soared.
Now we are leading the way to 5G for the next 10 years and beyond. 3G and 4G connected people, but 5G is going to connect everything. It’s a unifying, more capable communications fabric that will take on a much bigger role than previous generations of mobile technology. It’s a layer of connectivity that will become fundamental to our cities, jobs, homes, and ourselves. It’s the foundation for the next technological revolution.
5G will expand mobile networks and technologies into a much wider range of industries. It will enable smart cities that can sustain tomorrow’s urban population growth, autonomous cars that communicate with each other and traffic lights to save lives, VR headsets that allow us to experience the world in new ways, body sensors that monitor our health and make dietary recommendations, and so much more. It will change the way we interact with our world and each other.
Making this 5G connected world a reality is incredibly complex. You need a new kind of mobile network to meet an expanding and radically diverse set of connectivity requirements — both high throughput and low latency, high security and low power, high reliability and deep coverage. The 5G platform needs to be flexible and nimble at applying the right techniques, spectrum and bandwidth to match the needs of each application, and to support efficient multiplexing for future services and device types.
You also need to get the most out of every bit of spectrum across a wide array of available spectrum regulatory paradigms and bands — from low bands below 1 GHz, to mid bands from 1 GHz to 6 GHz, to high bands known as millimeter-wave. And you need to enable devices to work on licensed and shared spectrum concurrently. You need to connect things in new ways such as device-to-device, and need entirely new end-to-end solutions to do so.
This will require new technology innovations that build upon the foundation that we have already created. There is no single 5G technology component, no 5G dark horse. Instead, 5G will be built out of many disparate technology innovations, including high-bandwidth low-latency designs, spectrum sharing, advanced antenna and channel coding techniques, massive MIMO, and more.
Qualcomm is an invention company. We’ve been developing these 5G building blocks for years — just as we pioneered many of the building blocks for 3G and 4G. It hasn’t been easy. Making one cutting-edge technology work well is difficult; making many of them work together is even harder. But that’s what Qualcomm does.
We have the expertise and leadership in 4G LTE and Wi-Fi, which 5G will build and rely upon. We are pioneering 5G technologies today including our work on LTE Unlicensed, Gigabit Class LTE, LTE IoT, WiGig 802.11ad and mobile millimeter-wave radios. We have developed end-to-end 5G prototypes and testbeds, such as our recent 5G sub-6 GHz trial platform. We are actively contributing to 3GPP standardization of the 5G New Radio (NR) and participating in pre-5G trial activity. We have the experience and ability to pursue multiple technology paths, and choose the best way forward. And we know how to work with partners who are key to implementing these technologies at scale. No other company is so well positioned to lead the world into the 5G era.
Something this big doesn’t happen overnight. But 5G may be closer than you think. Pre-5G technologies are being field tested and trialed today, and 3GPP standardization is underway to create the 5G blueprint for first deployments in 2019, if not before.
The disruption will be huge, and nearly every industry is trying to figure out what it means for them. Qualcomm will rely on our deep expertise and leadership — and our restless spirit — to help them figure it out. One way we are doing this is with a global team of system experts who work throughout the ecosystem to optimize new capabilities and optimize networks. A team like this, with decades of experience, cannot be replicated and is essential in ensuring 5G gets deployed the way it is intended.
Everything we’ve invented, everything we’ve transformed, and every hurdle we’ve overcome has built the foundation for the limitless opportunities that 5G will open up. While others have been talking about 5G, we have been creating it. While others are waiting for 5G to arrive, we have been innovating to make it a reality. Why wait.