Qualcomm lobbies for 5G spectrum, sets foundation with Gigabit LTE

Qualcomm is encouraged by the FCC’s continued work to make more spectrum available for Gigabit LTE and 5G, and it’s working diligently to see the first commercial launches of 5G New Radio (NR) starting in 2019.

That’s the message from Qualcomm Senior Vice President of Spectrum Strategy and Technology Police Dean Brenner, who wrote in a blog post about his recent visit to Capitol Hill with colleague and Vice President of Government Affairs Alice Tornquist. They attended an event sponsored by the Congressional Spectrum Caucus, a bipartisan group intent on finding ways to increase access to more spectrum.

Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky) and Congresswoman Doris Matsui, (D-California) established the group in 2014 and more recently co-authored HR 1888, the Federal Spectrum Incentive Act, a bill that would provide incentives for U.S. government agencies to consolidate their use of spectrum so that more spectrum can be freed up for commercial mobile broadband.

The U.S. was successful in identifying federal spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, which is now being set up as a shared use band called Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS). The effort dates back to at least 2010, when the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) identified 3550-3650 MHz as one of several federal bands that could be made available for commercial wireless broadband. Spectrum Access System (SAS) administrators are being set up to manage the sharing of spectrum at 3.5 GHz in the U.S., but efforts are also underway to change the rules, which some fear could affect the rollout.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm is doing what it can to get spectrum in the pipeline—like 600 MHz—put to good use as soon as possible. The 600 MHz auction wrapped in April and many observers assumed it would take a while—maybe even years—to get it cleared of broadcasters. But T-Mobile, the biggest bidder, expects to reap the benefits of its 600 MHz spectrum this year, and it can thank Qualcomm in part for that.

As Brenner notes in his blog, a key part of commercializing 600 MHz for LTE is to support it in chipsets, and Qualcomm Technologies’ Snapdragon X20 LTE modem and RF transceiver are designed with 600 MHz capability; it also supports the band through the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.

“Our advanced RF Front End (RFFE) technologies, such as dynamic antenna tuning, are designed to minimize the OEM design impact in extending their devices’ frequency range to operate in the 600 MHz band without having to increase antenna size or compromise RF performance,” he wrote. “With broad industry support, we are working closely with operators and OEMs to enable early launches of 600 MHz-capable 4G multimode/multiband devices.”

T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray tweeted July 17 that devices from two OEMs—Samsung and LG—will support 600 MHz this year. In fact, he also said T-Mobile is rolling out 600 MHz so fast, it’s basically condensing a two-year process into six months.