Sep 6, 2019
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
There are many people without access to the internet, both in the U.S. and across the globe. In both rural and urban areas, internet isn’t available because deploying it in the traditional way poses too many challenges or is cost prohibitive.
That’s where Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) comes in. FWA is an alternative to traditional broadband (which averages only 63.85 Mbps download speeds across the globe according to Ookla) that wirelessly delivers fast internet speeds directly to homes. By swapping a cable/modem box for FWA consumer premises equipment (CPE), it’s possible to connect to internet service that’s faster, more reliable, and can be quickly and economically rolled out to the areas that are too difficult to reach with traditional broadband. This year, 54 million users worldwide will tap FWA to connect in their homes, according to ABI Research’s “LTE and 5G Fixed Broadband Market Update."
But just as 5G can transform auto, gaming, XR, and other industry segments, this next-generation of wireless can do the same for FWA. By 2024, that number is expected to reach 140 million, thanks to the deployments of 5G. This will bring faster speeds and more reliability to consumers. It will also connect the unconnected, delivering broadband to rural areas that are currently underserved and helping the world compute and communicate.
At Qualcomm Technologies, we’re already powering FWA products based on our previous Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G Modem-RF System such as the Inseego R1000 and the Nokia FastMile. Our technology is also in products like portable mmWave and Sub-6 hotspots.
Overall, we’ve been one of the leaders in 5G antenna modules. In 2018, we announced the Qualcomm QTM052 mmWave antenna module family, which mobilized mmWave for smartphones, helped make 5G possible, and is powering virtually every commercial 5G device available today. We followed up with the QTM525 5G mmWave antenna module, our second RF front-end solution that can make 5G smartphones and devices even sleeker and more efficient. Strong customer interest in these RF solutions has enabled us to help build a pipeline of over 150 5G designs.
Today, we’re adding to our portfolio with the unveiling of the QTM527 mmWave Antenna module. This is a truly groundbreaking solution, as it’s the world’s first announced fully-integrated extended-range mmWave antenna module built specifically for 5G FWA CPEs. Paired with our Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System comprising of the modem, RF transceiver, RF front-end, and antenna modules, QTM527 delivers a comprehensive modem-to-antenna system for flexible, cost-effective, high performance 5G mmWave CPE designs.
The QTM527 integrates a 5G NR radio transceiver, power management IC, RF front-end components, and a phased antenna array. Docking into the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System, it can be configured to support up to 64 dual polarization antenna elements, achieving over 40 dBm of peak EIRP for optimal and extended mmWave range and complying with Power Class 1 devices.
QTM527 also supports beam forming, beam steering, and beam tracking for bi-directional mobile mmWave communication, as well as up to 2x2 MIMO in both downlink and uplink. The QTM527 is currently sampling to customers, and the first high-power mmWave CPE devices are expected to arrive in the first half of 2020.
What’s exciting about this is the opportunity for the wireless industry to thrive and for more people to experience faster, more reliable connections. Here’s how the QTM527 will benefit operators, OEMs, and consumers.
The ability to use existing mobile network assets to deliver fixed wireless services will allow operators to expand their service with ease to new areas. It also means no additional capex for dedicated fixed network rollout, no need to get permits, and not having to send technicians out to every consumer’s home for installation. This results in a smoother rollout, faster time to commercialization, and the ability to deliver 5G’s multi-gigabit speeds and ultra-low latency to a wider customer base within their coverage footprint.
When it comes to expanding coverage, the extended-range 64-antenna QTM527 solution helps operators utilize their existing mobile network to provide wider coverage thereby improving the economics of fixed wireless deployments.
With traditional broadband, miles of wires and cables need to be physically installed to connect consumers’ homes to the network — an expensive, time consuming and complicated process. This additional complexity and expense has limited the number of operators that offer both fixed and wireless services. FWA is installed via a small antenna mounted on the roof or side of a house that connects wirelessly to a nearby cell tower, eliminating the need to install additional fixed infrastructure. This essentially makes it possible to skip the “last mile” fiber deployment typically needed for in-home broadband and enables all operators to participate in offering fixed wireless services.
As part of the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System, the QTM527 provides OEMs the technology arsenal they need to tackle 5G complexity, putting them on the leading edge of technology. It can help them accelerate time to launch, improve performance, and lower development effort for building mmWave 5G FWA CPEs at scale.
Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF system provides a full system solution that enables product development for multiple mobile broadband product categories, including Sub-6 and mmWave CPEs. The addition of QTM527 completes the system offering and enables OEMs to offer a diverse product portfolio to their customers.
For consumers, the QTM527 will offer a way to leap into 5G and experience a faster and more reliable internet connection in the home. By using mmWave spectrum, it can tap into the increased capacity and bandwidth mmWave offers to deliver multi-gigabit speeds, enabling consumers to connect all their devices and enjoy improved user experiences.
As the wireless industry moves to self installation, this means setting up the connection will be a less expensive and time consuming simple process - just plug in the FWA CPE, turn it on, and experience blazing fast speeds. Unlike traditional broadband, there’s no hassle of scheduling a visit (and having to be home during a six-hour window) for a technician to install complicated equipment and wires. And because operators don’t have to lay cables and fiber in the ground like with fixed broadband, the overall time to service for consumers will be much faster.
The expanded 5G FWA availability made possible by the QTM527 will also create more choices for consumers. Connecting with traditional broadband limits consumers to the internet service providers (ISP) with infrastructure already laid down in their area, which is often just one company. But FWA enables operators to offer service as well, opening up choices.
The QTM527 is a “first” that will empower operators, OEMs, and consumers to tap into all that 5G has to offer. It’s also our latest breakthrough that can help the world connect, compute, and communicate, and we’re excited to see how it helps usher in this new era of rapid innovation — the Invention Age. As part of our end-to-end system for supporting long ranges, it’s an important part of the 5G rollout and will help connect the unconnected and deliver ultra-fast speeds.