Qualcomm begins sampling open RAN-compliant 5G platforms

Qualcomm Technologies announced Wednesday that it has begun sampling the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and Qualcomm QRU100 5G RAN Platform to global customers and partners for verification and integration in 5G mobile infrastructure solutions.

According to Qualcomm, this marks a significant move forward in the evolution and upcoming commercialization of full-scale open and virtualized 5G networks.

These platforms will simplify and lower total cost of ownership of 5G deployments and help drive the transition toward modern networks by delivering high-performance, O-RAN compliant, energy efficient, virtualized, cloud-native 5G solutions, the company said.

Two years ago, Qualcomm promised to begin sampling in the middle of 2022, and this week’s announcement is intended to let everyone know that’s proceeding on time despite it being an entirely new chipset, said Gerardo Giaretta, senior director at Qualcomm in the 5G infrastructure business, during a briefing with media and analysts.

Qualcomm doesn’t provide infrastructure equipment, but it already has a RAN line built for small cells, with chipsets present, for example, in infrastructure that Rakuten Mobile deployed in its fully virtualized mobile network in Japan.

Now it wants to provide key components to existing or new vendors deploying open RAN solutions.

Its platform is based on the open RAN specification, so it is interoperable with compliant components from other vendors, according to Giaretta.

The news comes as the industry is convening this week for MWC Las Vegas, but some customers already have it in their labs, he said.

Qualcomm said its QRU100 5G RAN Platform supports advanced cellular technologies and specifically called out features like multi-operator RAN sharing, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) and digital beamforming, as well as 64T64R, 32T32R and non-Massive MIMO solutions.

“Network operators understand the importance of deploying 5G network infrastructure that can support the demands of next-generation networks, enhance consumer experiences, and unlock new use cases. They require a scalable solution with high capacity and low latency,” said Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, cellular modems and infrastructure at Qualcomm Technologies, in a statement.

“Sampling of the QualcommX100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and Qualcomm QRU100 5G RAN Platform mark a significant milestone for full-scale Open RAN commercialization as these technologies aim to bring innovative, cost-effective, and power-efficient Open RAN solutions to the marketplace and boost the infrastructure ecosystem,” Malladi added.

Qualcomm expects commercial deployments featuring the QualcommX100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and Qualcomm QRU100 5G RAN Platform will start happening in the second half of 2023.