Apr 5, 2018
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
Here at Qualcomm, we’re working diligently to make 5G a commercial reality by 2019. That means we’re working closely with nearly all the key 5G ecosystem participants to ensure that their 5G devices are ready and successfully launched next year.
Some of our activities may not be visible or even widely known to all in the industry, but they are indeed critical in nature. Our 5G Test Ready Program falls into this category as it will help expedite the launch of Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered 5G devices from multiple device manufacturers. The program is open to the test vendors — also known as test houses — that we work closely with and allows them to test 5G New Radio (NR) technology.
Before the 2019 launches happen, other key milestones need to take place such as the first standards-compliant 5G NR network trials that will begin later this year. More than 20 operators from around the world will participate in these trials using the Qualcomm Technologies 5G Mobile Test Platform (MTP). Test vendors, powered by the 5G Test Ready Program, will benefit from these 5G NR standard-compliant trials as well as the interoperability testing that began last year with our infrastructure vendor partners.
But the key challenge remains: How do we put commercial 5G NR devices in consumers’ hands by 2019 and provide them with the mobile broadband services they want? A big step forward was our announced collaboration with leading OEMs from around the world that development of Snapdragon X50 5G modem-powered smartphones, mobile hotspots, Always Connected PCs, and immersive head-mounted VR displays is underway. The 5G Test Ready Program then comes into play as it enables our test partners to expedite the testing and verification of 5G commercial devices by providing testing support to mobile operators and device OEMs. After introducing the 5G Test Ready Program to our partners recently in San Diego (photo at top), I wanted to share with you some of the enthusiasm from our partners:
“Tech Mahindra is excited to be part of Qualcomm’s new 5G Test Ready Program and look forward to making 5G a reality in 2019,” said Jai Kishan Rao, vice president, Transformation Lead. “The knowledge and tools we receive from the program will help our customers launch 5G devices faster, with reduced test costs.”
“Testing 5G devices to ensure compliance with industry standards and carrier requirements in essential for our customers to bring new 5G experiences to customers in 2019,” said Bryan Mikesh, COO, DEKRA Testing and Certification, Inc. “DEKRA values our continued partnership with Qualcomm and is glad to be part of the 5G Test Ready Program.”
Qualcomm started the broader test program in 2009 before the commercial rollout of 4G as part of the Qualcomm’s Test Center Network (TCN). Qualcomm’s TCN now includes about 20 test houses and provides access to our device testing tools and solutions as well as training for a deeper understanding of modem and test technologies. The new 5G Test Ready Program, open to all Qualcomm TCN partners, expands our support and empowers our partners to expedite 5G NR commercial adoption and is comprised of the following components:
- Exclusive training sessions and workshops: Ranging from areas such as physical layer, upper layer implementation, and overview of 5G features. A concrete example is the significantly expanded spectrum support in 5G NR. The lower bands such as 700 MHz have been used for mobile communications for a while now, but higher bands such as mmWave are new — so training around mmWave antennas, propagation, and deployment is essential for our 5G Test Ready participants. The higher mid-band around 3.5 GHz will bring multi-gigabit user data rates for enhanced mobile broadband services, but in order to deliver better experiences in dense urban areas and make a clear differentiation from today’s Gigabit LTE, it is essential to mobilize mmWave technologies for smartphones.
- Mobile Test Platform (MTP): As I mentioned earlier, we will use the form-factor MTPs for field trials with operators and infrastructure vendors starting later this year. Access to MTPs gives our 5G Test Ready participants insight to standards-compliant 5G NR testing before the commercial devices are ready for testing — a great example of how we can help expedite 5G commercial device launches for our customers and bring 5G experiences to consumers sooner.
- Qualcomm 5G expertise and knowledge sharing: A key objective of the TCN program is to support our customers so that they can reduce testing costs and time to market. The program also provides updates on global rollouts and standards, as well as support for trials and deployment rollouts. One example is the completion of the 5G NR standard that is the foundation for actual testing. Although the December 2017 milestone with the completion of the 3GPP Release 15 standard was a huge step forward, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do — such as stabilizing 3GPP Release 15 and driving the evolution and expansion of 5G in order to realize the full 5G $12.3T opportunity.
- Certification process to ensure quality: The 5G Test Ready Program comes with obligations to ensure quality. Partners committed to the 5G Test Ready Program must demonstrate expertise in 5G tools, testing, and prototypes as well as attend exclusive 5G training. They must also have the necessary test equipment and demonstrate expertise in executing industry and operator-specified test requirements. One example of how we ensure quality is by having our partners provide sample test reports on a test device. Certified partners can use the ‘5G Test Ready’ logo (at right).
Finally, our 5G Test Ready Program is not limited to smartphones — it also supports IoT devices powered by LTE IoT today and will support the future expansion of 5G to new industries.
Why does Qualcomm commit resources to programs like 5G Test Ready? Because we believe that programs like this benefit our customers, consumers — the entire ecosystem — in the most profound way. The bets we make today with our world-leading technical, product, and business knowledge will become the 5G breakthroughs we’ll all benefit from tomorrow.