5G Products

Infrastructure ecosystem

Infrastructure equipment is probably even more important than devices in the early building of an ecosystem, as they are used to test the technology features and concepts, even as the technology is being standardized within 3GPP. Equipment vendors were early in announcing their effort in building 5G technology, often by announcing trials efforts with Mobile Network Operators and/or chipset manufacturers. Those demonstrations are often focused on pieces of technologies or concepts, such as Massive MIMO, the use of mmWaves in different mobility scenarios…
As industry efforts have now resulted in early (and accelerated) standardization of the technologies and as first operators are now preparing for network launch by the end of the year 2018 or early 2019, most equipment vendors have built and presented a 5G solution so that first network can start their deployment, even though commercial devices are not there yet.
Those solutions share more or less the same features, although each vendor has designed it solution around its main strength. These features are:
• 3GPP Release 15 compliance: Release 15 is the first official release of 5G. Before that, some equipment vendors have worked around not finalized version of the standard, or as is the case of network operator having built a pre-standard (such as Verizon with the 5GTF). As Release 15 of 3GPP has seen its specs frozen, infrastructure equipment now boast their full Rel. 15 compliancy.
• End to end offering: in the race to being the most advanced vendor, it is important to show full end-to-end product portfolio, which means a core network solution, a transport solution, a base-station adapted to different scenario (e.g. such as indoor or outdoor), and a “front-end” solution with diverse antenna solutions
• A (virtual) core network solution: It is built to be deployed in the cloud for maximum flexibility and to support the deployment of certain network functions at different places in the network, in centralized or more less distributed (up to the edge of the network) way
• Support for massive MIMO: Massive MIMO, beamforming, beam tracking and beam steering are key features to attain increased spectrum efficiency in 5G. The support of this feature is thus key for equipment vendors to assert 5G ambitions
• Support for sub 6 GHz and mmWaves: While mmWaves have received much of the attention in the race to 5G because of all the challenges associated in operating a radio network in these frequency bands (the 28 GHz notably), but C band below 6 GHz has also seen traction because of its roaming capabilities for 5G. In Europe, early deployments are likely to be in this band rather in the 26 GHz, because of its better coverage capabilities and the feeling of operators that they are not yet running out of capacity (as compared to the U.S. for instance).

5G chipsets

As of end of August 2018, several 5G basebands have already been announced and should be integrated in products to be released as soon as in 2019 for the earliest device manufacturers.

Qualcomm, with its X50 modem was the first to announce its initiative, back in the end of 2016 and is today probably the most advanced player in terms of product availability, probably followed by Samsung, who announced its 5G baseband in August 2018 but with a much more integrated offering. As compared to Qualcomm, Samsung is indeed proposing, what it considers as the first integrated multimode 2G/3G/4G/5G baseband. The Qualcomm X50 module must be used together with a 2G/3G/4G baseband for Non Standalone Operation.

Qualcomm and Samsung are not by far the only players to have announced their 5G initiative in terms of baseband. Intel, Huawei, through HiSilicon and Mediatek have also made their announcement. At the Mobile World Congress in February 2018, Huawei had announced, through its subsidiary Hi-Silicon, its own 5G baseband called Balong 5G01, a chipset that Huawei claimed to be the first 5G commercial chipset, a claim that is true if we consider it is effectively used in Huawei own 5G CPE but that doesn’t reveal the level of maturity of the product. While both Qualcomm and Samsung chipset support throughput up to more than 5 Gbps in the mmWaves, Huawei Balong 5G01 currently support a maximum throughput of 2.3 Gbps.

As for Intel and Mediatek both players seem to lag behind in terms of product readiness. At MWC 2018, Intel was showcasing a solution still based on FPGAs, highlighting the integration steps still required for readily available and embeddable silicon. Mediatek seems to be in comparable situation, although much less is known about the development status of its Helio M70 5G baseband.

5G devices

In the table below, we list the 5G devices that have been announced or presented so far. While it may seem limited at this stage, it should grow up rapidly, as commercial network are officially launched.

Vendor Product name Baseband Comment
HTC HTC 5G Hub Qualcomm HTC announced a partnership with Sprint in November 2018 for the provision of a 5G mobile hot-spot, which it plans to launch in H1 2019
Huawei Huawei 5G CPE Pro Huawei Announced in January 2019, the 5G CPE Pro supports both sub-6 GHz and mm-wave bands.
  Huawei Mate 30 series Huawei Should be available in the second half of 2019
  Huawei Mate X Huawei This foldable smartphone was announced during MWC’19
Intel 2-in-1 PC 5G prototype Intel prototype 2 in 1 PC concept supporting the 28 GHz band
LG LG V50 ThinQ smartphone   The LG V50 will be available in May 2019 for Sprint’ subscribers in the USA.
Motorola Z3 Qualcomm Mid-tier smartphone with 5G connectivity available with an additional module to be purchased separately early 2019. Will be sold by Verizon
Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot Qualcomm Announced in October 2018. Will support mm-wave bands for AT&T
OnePlus n/a Qualcomm Planning to launch a model with UK operator EE in H1 2019
OPPO n/a Qualcomm Planned for H1 2019
Samsung Samsung Outdoor CPE Samsung Indoor and outdoor Home router. 2×2 MIMO with each antenna having 32 antenna elements.
Samsung Galaxy F Foldable Samsung This foldable smartphone was announced during MWC’19
Samsung Galaxy S10 Samsung Planned for US operators AT&T and Verizon in 2019
Sony Xperia X23?    
VIVO Vivo Nex Qualcomm Planned for H1 2019
Xiaomi n/a Qualcomm Planned for H1 2019
ZTE n/a Qualcomm 5G “smart terminals” to be launched end of 2018 / early 2019

Latest News in Europe

Vodafone Spain launched 5G in 15 cities

The network was switched on in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander

German 5G auction ends with 6.55 billion EUR in total bids

Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Germany criticized high prices of the country’s auction

Nkom announces results of 700MHz, 2100MHz spectrum auction in Norway

The auctions raised a total of 74.9 million EUR

Vodafone Italia switches on 5G in 5 cities

The service is available in Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna and Naples, with around 45 to 50 cities to follow in 2019, rising to 100 by 2021

EE launches commercial 5G services in UK

EE will introduce 5G across the busiest parts of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield during the rest of the year.

Europe to harmonise Radio Spectrum in the 26 GHz Band

On 14 May 2019, the European Commission has adopted an Implementing Decision to harmonise the radio spectrum in the 24.25-27.5 GHz (or 26 GHz) band for the future use of 5G

5G race in the UK

Vodafone will launch 5G commercial service on July 3rd in 7 cities … and EE’s launch is ‘imminent”

Sunrise launches 5G in Switzerland, Swisscom announces its plan

Sunrise 5G network is live in more than 150 cities across Switzerland

Denmark completes auction of the 700 MHz band

The auction of 700, 900 and 2,300 MHz bands raised a total of EUR 296 million

all news in Europe

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