OnQ Blog

Why carrier aggregation is needed for 5G, and the latest Qualcomm Technologies breakthroughs making it possible [video]

May 21, 2021

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

5G spectrum aggregation is an important capability in this new generation of wireless, but while the concept is simple, implementation is extremely complex.

This diagram reflects the complex set of 5G spectrum aggregation combinations supported in the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems. The vertical bars represent the spectrum of bands available for cellular communications. Each colored line connects two or more bands (aggregation) according to 5G specifications. The number of combinations required in global 5G devices is counted in thousands.
This diagram reflects the complex set of 5G spectrum aggregation combinations supported in the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF Systems. The vertical bars represent the spectrum of bands available for cellular communications. Each colored line connects two or more bands (aggregation) according to 5G specifications. The number of combinations required in global 5G devices is counted in thousands.

Here’s the idea: bond multiple radio frequencies together — such as 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz — to get more spectrum resources per user, which can enhance speeds in challenging environments, improve peak and average data rates, and provide even more network capacity — because multiple bands serve a shared queue of user data requests more efficiently than separate bands serving separate queues. 5G carrier aggregation, a method of spectrum aggregation, can also improve mid-band coverage by moving 5G control channels from mid- to lower bands. Overall, it provides a superior user experience.

But because devices featuring 5G spectrum aggregation need to support all key frequency combinations across all the networks they might connect to (up to 10,000+ combinations), this is easier said than done. Whether you’re bringing together multiple time division duplex (TDD) bands, frequency division duplex (FDD) bands, or a combination of those, it’s important to support all key spectrum combinations for carrier aggregation. What’s more, those combinations need to work on both 5G non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) modes.

Despite these challenges, we were up for the challenge. After pioneering carrier aggregation in 4G LTE, we’re leading again with 5G and addressing all major complexities in our chipset solutions. Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G Mobile Platforms and Modem-RF Systems were purpose-built for this and empower phone makers to focus on other areas such as design and software, leading to better products with the features and styles users want.

We’re especially excited because today, we showcased the latest in a series of milestones to offer the most comprehensive 5G sub-6 GHz carrier aggregation support in our Snapdragon Modem-RF Systems. At the Qualcomm China Tech Day, we demonstrated 5G sub-6 TDD+FDD carrier aggregation with primary connectivity in the TDD band for the first time, using the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System.

This is an important combination for operators in the country, supporting them to improve network capacity and performance. This will improve 5G speeds and reliability in challenging wireless conditions, allowing consumers to experience smoother video streaming and faster downloads.

5G Standalone Carrier Aggregation

May 20, 2021 | 0:18

We initiated support for 5G sub-6 carrier aggregation with our Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System announced in 2019, and then expanded capabilities with Snapdragon X60 and our latest Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System. Now, this latest demonstration continues to show the progress in 5G carrier aggregation that can enable all of us to make the most of 5G.

We delivered 5G with a promise to transform industries and enrich lives, and we’re thrilled by all the progress made so far. Together with our collaborators in the mobile ecosystem, we’re hitting new 5G milestones nearly every day — from breakthroughs in carrier aggregation to the tremendous proliferation of mmWave. With 5G, we can make the world more connected than it’s ever been.

Qualcomm Snapdragon is a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc and/or its subsidiaries.

Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Francesco Grilli

VP, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies

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