Press Release

Qualcomm Network Simulation Shows Significant 5G User Experience Gains

— Industry’s First Detailed Simulation of 5G NR Networks and Devices Builds on Unique Qualcomm Technologies Capability, Prepares Mobile Ecosystem with Predictions of 5G Real-World Performance —

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), today announced key findings from an extensive 5G network simulation the company has conducted over the past several months. The Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G Network Capacity Simulation demonstrated the significant potential of 5G, by yielding quantitative insights into the expected real-world performance and user experience of 5G and Gigabit LTE devices, operating in Non-Standalone (NSA) multimode 4G/5G NR networks. The findings also provide quantitative support for the significant gains in capacity that can be realized by 5G NR over 4G LTE, as the industry prepares for the first wave of 5G networks and devices in the first half of 2019.

“There is a lot of interest from various stakeholders in the mobile ecosystem – cloud platform providers, application developers, device OEMs, and others – in understanding the real-world performance that 5G NR mobile networks and devices will deliver,” said Alex Holcman, senior vice president of engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We undertook this comprehensive study to help the ecosystem prepare for the foray into 5G, so that application developers, for example, can begin planning new experiences and services for users with 5G devices.”

Two separate sets of simulations were conducted. The first one, modeled a NSA 5G NR network in Frankfurt, Germany, operating on 100 MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, with an underlying Gigabit LTE network operating across 5 LTE spectrum bands. The second simulation modeled a hypothetical NSA 5G NR network in San Francisco, California, operating in 800 MHz of 28 GHz mmWave spectrum, with an underlying Gigabit LTE network operating across 4 licensed LTE spectrum bands plus License Assisted Access (LAA) bands. In both simulations, existing cell site locations in Frankfurt and San Francisco were used, where 5G NR cell sites are co-located with actual, existing LTE sites.

The Frankfurt simulation showcased a downlink capacity increase of up to 5x when migrating from an LTE-only network, with a mix of LTE devices of various capabilities, to a 5G NR network with multi-mode 5G NR devices and an increased mix of advanced Gigabit LTE devices. This simulation also yielded compelling evidence of the benefits of Massive MIMO technology, with median spectral efficiency increase of up to 4x on 3.5 GHz spectrum.

Beyond network capacity improvements, the simulation also demonstrated significant user experience gains for 5G NR capable devices when compared with LTE devices, including:

  • Browsing download speeds increasing from 56 Mbps for the median 4G user to more than 490 Mbps for the median 5G user, a gain of approximately 900 percent

  • Approximately 7x faster responsiveness, with median browsing download latency reduced from 116ms to 17ms

  • File download speeds of 100 Mbps for the 10th percentile 5G user, meaning that 90 percent of 5G users have download speeds of more than 100 Mbps. This is compared to 8 Mbps for the 10th percentile LTE user.

  • Median streaming video quality increasing from 2K/30 FPS/8-bit color for LTE users to 8K/120 FPS/10-bit color and beyond for 5G users.

The San Francisco simulation, on the other hand, provided the first glimpse of the impact of the significantly increased capacity afforded by 800 MHz of additional mmWave spectrum on real-world user experience. Key findings included:

  • Browsing download speeds increasing from 71 Mbps for the median 4G user to 1.4 Gbps for the median 5G user in mmWave coverage, a gain of approximately 2000 percent

  • Approximately 23x faster responsiveness, with median browsing download latency reduced from 115ms to 4.9ms

  • File download speeds of more than 186 Mbps for 90 percent of 5G users, compared to 10 Mbps for LTE, a 1,826 percent gain. The median 5G file download speed was 442 Mbps.

  • Median streaming video quality increasing from 2K/30 FPS/8-bit color for LTE users to 8K/120 FPS/10-bit color and beyond for 5G users.

The results from the 5G Network Capacity Simulation lend credence to the promise of 5G, with expected real-world performance that is substantially better than what is currently possible with 4G across multiple metrics. The findings also illustrate that these emerging 5G networks will have the capacity and performance to support a whole host of new services and experiences beyond the traditional categories of browsing, downloading, and streaming. With 18 global operators and 20 leading device makers selecting the Qualcomm® Snapdragon X50 5G modem for the first wave of 5G network trials and consumer devices, the stage is set for these incredible 5G user experiences to come to user’s hands in the first half of 2019.

About the Simulation Methodology

The 5G Network Capacity Simulation builds on Qualcomm Technologies’ unique capabilities to accurately model and simulate cellular systems.

The Simulation utilized existing base station locations with the 5G NR cell sites co-located with existing LTE cell sites. Around 14,000 user devices, of various capabilities, were randomly distributed across the network with approximately 50 percent of the users indoor and 50 percent of the users outdoor. The mixture of devices, capabilities of devices, and spectrum bands/bandwidths utilized by the devices were all chosen based on anticipated commercial deployments for LTE-only and NSA 5G NR networks in the 2019 timeframe. The simulation showcased different traffic patterns based on a representative mixture of mobile applications including browsing, cloud storage downloading, and adaptive bitrate video streaming.

The simulations were based on modeling of the physical base stations and their RF capabilities, including Massive MIMO capability for 5G NR sub-6 GHz utilizing up to 256 antennas, and 5G NR mmWave beamforming utilizing antenna panels with 256 elements. The LTE-only traffic is modeled utilizing 4 antennas at the base station. The propagation between the base stations and the devices was modeled based on detailed 3D urban microcell and urban microcell models that include path loss, shadowing, diffraction, building penetration loss, and more, making use of the extensive over-the-air testing and channel measurements conducted by Qualcomm Technologies. To ensure the simulations reflect real-world mobile environments, they included modeling of interference from cells that were simultaneously serving different users, including accounting for Wi-Fi users to realistically model the use of LTE in unlicensed spectrum (LAA).

Those attending Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26 - March 1, can experience a demonstration of the network simulation at the Qualcomm Booth: Hall 3 Stand 3E10.

About Qualcomm

Qualcomm invents breakthrough technologies that transform how the world connects and communicates. When we connected the phone to the Internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our inventions are the foundation for life-changing products, experiences, and industries. As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, all of our engineering, research and development functions, and all of our products and services businesses, including, the QCT semiconductor business. For more information, visit Qualcomm’s website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

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