TELECOMS

Qualcomm Reveals Latest 5G Silicon, Open RAN Play

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By Kingsley I. Ilechukwu

Qualcomm continued an effort to push 5G into cheaper smartphones, with president Cristiano Amon using a keynote to outline plans to incorporate the technology in its Snapdragon 4-series while also detailing work on open RAN and fixed wireless access (FWA).

Amon said lower-tier devices represent a 3.5 billion-user opportunity globally, tipping the 4-series move to speed “transition of the device ecosystem from 4G to 5G”.

Qualcomm plans to release full details of the 5G-equipped 4-series silicon at a later date, though Amon predicted it would power devices in the US$125 to US$250 price range, with the first commercial units available in Q1 2021.

Xiaomi, Oppo and Motorola are all designing devices based on the chipset, he said.

The Qualcomm president added its Snapdragon 6-, 7- and 8-series chips address 60 per cent of the current 5G smartphone market.

Open RAN

Amon explained Qualcomm ramped its focus on infrastructure, noting global pressure on operators not to use Huawei equipment and a trend toward disaggregated networks had created a “significant opportunity”.

He argued the company is “well-suited to deliver 5G network technology at scale”, citing work with a “growing number” of vendors and operators including Rakuten Mobile, Fujitsu, NEC, Verizon, Samsung, Altiostar and Radisys.

“We are one of the few that have the assets that we can build the engine of the new open RAN base station, and we’re very excited about that opportunity,” he said, adding more announcements around this are forthcoming.

Deutsche Telekom board member Claudia Nemat highlighted a 5G collaboration, stating the companies “are well-positioned to drive the ecosystem toward high-performing and energy-efficient open RAN solutions”.

Amon also talked-up headway in the FWA 5G market, with more than 30 OEMs using its Snapdragon X55 modem in 80 different products and strong operator uptake from BT, Telecom Italia, Deutsche Telekom and Swisscom.

He argued traction around FWA is “very high” and predicted deployments would grow inline with expanding 5G coverage to account for 25 per cent of all broadband access.

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