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Telecom Firms Collaborate to Deliver 5G on Low-Band Spectrum

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As the telecom carriers continue to up the ante for extensive 5G deployment across the United States, various firms in the industry have taken recourse to building on and fully utilizing the spectrum assets. Also, with 5G becoming the testbed for upcoming technological innovations, diverse firms are increasingly collating resources to come up with solutions through technological collaborations to have a greater pie in the market.

A case in point is the recent teamwork of T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS - Free Report) , Qualcomm Incorporated (QCOM - Free Report) and Ericsson (ERIC - Free Report) to deliver the world’s first low-band 5G data session on a commercial 5G modem. The unique feat is likely to serve as a major landmark in the 5G history of the country, and sow the seeds for delivering the state-of-the-art technology beyond urban areas.

The Need for Tie-Up

In a saturated wireless market, spectrum crunch has become a major issue in the U.S. telecom industry. Most of the carriers are finding it increasingly difficult to manage mobile data traffic, which is growing by leaps and bounds. The situation has become even more acute with the growing popularity of iPhone and Android smartphones as well as rising online mobile video streaming, cloud computing and video conferencing services.

This has forced telecom firms to seek various survival strategies to make the best use of the performance characteristics of each spectrum band, and tap the available spectrum resources to achieve the full performance benefits of the 5G new radio technology.

What’s the Fuss About 5G?

5G is billed as the technology of the future with faster download speed and seamless transfer of data. Leveraging state-of-the-art communication network architectures, 5G is touted to be the primary catalyst for next-generation IoT services. These include connected cars coupled with augmented reality and virtual reality platform, smart cities and connected devices that revolutionize key industry verticals.

Moreover, 5G is likely to augment the scalability, security and universal mobility of the telecommunications industry, which is expected to propel the wide proliferation of IoT. The telecom firms are facilitating its customers to move away from an economy-of-scale network operating model to demand-driven operations and seamlessly migrate to 5G by offering easy programmability and flexible automation. Rollouts of next-generation 5G networks are anticipated to improve market conditions significantly in 2019 and beyond.

Low-Band Spectrum

Backed by a unique set of properties, each spectrum band offers diverse opportunities for a service provider to balance between throughput, coverage, quality, latency, reliability and spectral efficiency. The low band spectrum has longer wavelengths compared to the mid-band and the high-band, enabling it to be more robust and travel longer distances at the expense of bandwidth. These bands are ideal for wide-area and outside-in coverage as well as for deeper signal penetration in buildings, typically required for eMBB (enhanced mobile broadband) and voice services.

What the Collaboration Brings to the Table

T-Mobile carried the 5G data session in its lab in Bellevue, WA, on 600 MHz spectrum using a mobile test device powered by the second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G modem, and commercial 5G radios from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio. The successful maneuver will likely serve as the foundation for T-Mobile’s nationwide 5G deployment by leveraging its existing 4G LTE assets, infrastructure and its significant presence in the 600 MHz band. The favorable test results are further likely to cement its position as a leading 5G carrier with its proposed merger with Sprint Corporation (S - Free Report) , which has a considerable presence in the mid-band spectrum.

On the other hand, the positive test results are expected to pave the way for advanced multi-mode support for deploying Qualcomm’s 5G modem across any combination of spectrum bands and thereby unlock the full potential of 5G for business enterprises and consumers alike. In addition, the successful use of Ericsson equipment offers a viable alternative to Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei for nationwide 5G commercialization across different spectrum bands.

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