Qualcomm demo phone 230There will be very few phones until H2 2019 but a handful are ready to trickle out. Qualcomm's demo phone made a call at a show in Hong Kong. They announced there will be phones from Xiaomi, OPPO, vivo, Sony, Motorola, Asus, HMD/Nokia, HTC/Google, and LG in 2019. Xiaomi is rumoured to announce a phone this week. Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung, and ZTE claim their base stations are ready to go. Verizon is live, ready to serve tens of thousands. CEO Vestberg is frustrated because his vendors can't deliver the phones until June or July.

Unfortunately, no one can produce the chips in quantity today. 5G NR is so demanding that it requires absolutely the most advanced chip manufacturing. Qualcomm is ready with the X50 modem, a new small antenna, a remarkably small RF front end and a reference design. 

Only TSMC, Samsung, and Intel can produce the necessary chips.

Samsung, which makes the Qualcomm chip, announced last week its 7 nm process is (finally) ready. But they face a major backlog, including for their own phones. TSMC is in volume production but Apple has bought 75% of their capacity into 2019.

Huawei bought 10% of Huawei's production but will need it for the Kirin 980 true gigabit LTE phone. Intel is a year behind schedule. 

All three have thousands of engineers working to deliver.

  

Qualcomm Announces the Latest and Smallest Additions in its Family of 5G NR mmWave Antenna Modules

— New 5G NR mmWave Modules are 25 Percent Smaller in Size, Allowing Mobile Device OEMs High Design-in Flexibility for Their 5G Mobile Handset Designs set to Launch in Early 2019 —

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, today announced the smallest additions to the Qualcomm® QTM052 mmWave antenna module family of fully-integrated 5G NR millimeter wave (mmWave) modules for smartphones and other mobile devices. 25 percent smaller than the first QTM052 mmWave antenna modules announced in July 2018, the latest mmWave antenna module is engineered to enable mobile device manufacturers to address stringent mobile handset size requirements for 5G NR smartphones and mobile devices expected to launch in 2019. With these smaller antenna modules, OEMs now have more options for antenna placement, providing them with more freedom and flexibility in their 5G mmWave designs.

“At Qualcomm Technologies, we’re constantly looking for ways to innovate and revolutionize the mobile experience, and we’ve done that with the QTM052 mmWave antenna modules, which build on a major milestone that we introduced in July 2018 – the announcement of the first commercial 5G NR mmWave and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones and other mobile devices,” said Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm Incorporated. “We are dedicated to providing OEMs more versatility in their 5G smartphone form factor offerings, and that’s made possible through Qualcomm Technologies’ groundbreaking innovations in miniaturizing 5G NR mmWave modules. This milestone reinforces leadership of Qualcomm Technologies in enabling the path to 5G commercialization in early 2019.”

The QTM052 mmWave antenna modules pair with the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem to help address the challenges associated with mmWave. They feature a phased antenna array design in an incredibly small footprint, suitable for integrating up to four modules in a smartphone form factor. The modules support advanced beam forming, beam steering, and beam tracking technologies, designed to drastically improve the range and reliability of mmWave signals. Lastly, they include an integrated 5G NR radio transceiver, power management IC, RF front-end components and phased antenna array as well as support up to 800 MHz of bandwidth in the 26.5-29.5 GHz (n257), 27.5-28.35 (n261), and 37-40 GHz (n260) mmWave bands.

The new, smaller QTM052 mmWave antenna module family is now sampling to customers and is expected to launch in commercial 5G NR devices in early 2019.  

Qualcomm and Ericsson Successfully Make First 3GPP-compliant 5G NR Sub-6 GHz OTA Call with a Mobile Form Factor Device

— Significant Demonstration on the Path to 5G NR Commercial Mobile Handsets in the First Half of 2019 —

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), and Ericsson announced the successful completion of a 3GPP Rel-15 spec compliant 5G NR over-the-air (OTA) call over sub-6 GHz bands on a smartphone form factor mobile test device. The OTA call was conducted in the Ericsson Lab in Stockholm, Sweden on the 3.5 GHz band. Similar to the companies’ first OTA calls performed using millimeter wave (mmWave) in both 28 and 39 GHz spectrum bands, which occurred in September 2018, today’s sub-6 GHz call utilized Ericsson’s commercial 5G NR radio AIR 6488 and baseband products and a mobile test device powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem and RF subsystem.

In December 2017, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies announced interoperability development testing (IODT) to help pave the way for commercial launches of 5G NR standard-compliant infrastructure, smartphones and other mobile devices in the first half of 2019. The successful 5G OTA calls using both sub-6 GHz and mmWave bands are critical milestones in the commercialization process as operators and OEMs around the world can now utilize the companies’ products to conduct their own tests in their labs and the field.

Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks, Ericsson, says, “Achieving interoperability on different spectrums shows the strength of the 5G ecosystem. Together with Qualcomm Technologies, we’ve successfully tested 5G NR on 39, 28 and now, 3.5 GHz band. These milestones add to the commercial readiness of 5G. They also assure operators of broader capacity options to cater for diverse use cases.”

“Today’s call marks a significant milestone as we have now successfully made 3GPP-compliant calls in the sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum bands, which will facilitate mobile operators’ deployment of their 5G NR networks,” says Durga Malladi, senior vice president, engineering and general manager, 4G/5G, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “Sub-6 GHz spectrum is instrumental to the global 5G NR rollout as it will provide wide area, high performance connectivity and has been allocated and auctioned in numerous regions around the world, including the US, Korea and Europe, with others to follow shortly. We look forward to continue working with Ericsson in making 5G a commercial reality for the mobile ecosystem.”

dave askOn Oct 1, Verizon will turn on the first $20B 5G mmWave network, soon offering a gigabit or close to 30M homes. The estimates you hear about 5G costs are wildly exaggerated. Verizon is building the most advanced wireless network while keeping capex at around 15%.

The Koreans, Chinese, and almost all Europeans are not doing mmWave in favor of mid-band "5G," with 4G-like performance. Massive MIMO in either 4G or "5G" can increase capacity 4X to 10X, including putting 2.3 GHz to 4.2 GHz to use. Cisco & others see traffic growth slowing to 30%/year or less. Verizon sees cost/bit dropping 40% per year. I infer overcapacity almost everywhere.  

The predicted massive small cell builds are a pipe dream for vendors for at least five years. Verizon expects to reach a quarter of the U.S. without adding additional small cells. 

In the works: Enrique Blanco and Telefonica's possible mmWave disruption of Germany; Believe it or don't: 5G is cheap because 65% of most cities can be covered by upgrading existing cells; Verizon is ripping out and replacing 200,000 pieces of gear expecting to save half. 

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 5G Why Verizon thinks differently and what to do about it is a new report I wrote for STL Partners and their clients.

STL Partners, a British consulting outfit I respect, commissioned me to ask why. That report is now out. If you're a client, download it here. If not, and corporate priced research is interesting to you, ask me to introduce you to one of the principals.

It was fascinating work because the answers aren't obvious. Lowell McAdam's company is spending $20B to cover 30M+ homes in the first stage. The progress in low & mid-band, both "4G" and "5G," has been remarkable. In most territories, millimeter wave will not be necessary to meet expected demand.

McAdam sees a little further. mmWave has 3-4X the capacity of low and mid-band. He sees an enormous marketing advantage: unlimited services, even less congestion, reputation as the best network. Verizon testing found mmWave rate/reach was twice what had been estimated. All prior cost estimates need revision.

My take: even if mmWave doesn't fit in your current budget, telcos should expand trials and training to be ready as things change. The new cost estimates may be low enough to change your mind.