5G: Enabling a New Era of Revolutionary Communications

Skyworks Solutions

January 30, 2019

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5G will transform our daily lives, but how will it all work? As an expert in wireless connectivity, Skyworks provides a simplified answer in its newest video, addressing the looming digital traffic jam and how Sky5™ resolves the system complexities brought on by this revolutionary new standard.

Sky5 Makes 5G Work

Source: Skyworks Solutions

As demand for wireless connectivity grows, so does the anticipation for 5G. With the promise of unimagined applications like autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and telemedicine, 5G will be revolutionary.

5G will deliver higher data content with low latency at speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G. As a result, the drive toward 5G is moving to commercial reality faster than many expected. With that in mind, mobile operators are implementing near-term, tactical efforts to ensure that 5G demonstration hardware becomes available throughout 2019.

The Framework for Early 5G

Release 15 of 3GPP marks the commercial beginning of 5G.
We expect this framework to underpin commercial 5G networks being deployed in 2020, even though additional network configurations have extended completion of the standard by approximately six months. The changes were incorporated to ensure delivery of all NR (NR) architecture options and the finalization of option 3a (non-standalone) and option 2 (standalone). The updates will also include further development of the standalone 5G NR specifications as well as refinements to some of the earlier work.

With Release 15 in hand, mobile operators, device manufacturers, and chipset providers have the confidence and ability to move forward with concrete developments to support commercial deployments. We expect to see commercial products and announcements in 2019, ahead of larger scale network deployments in 2020.

New Challenges for 5G NR

With the previous information, now is a good time to reflect on what the 5G NR challenges present for both smartphones and the RF front-end. The list below is not intended to be exhaustive; rather it indicates some issues as we start development of commercial 5G products.

  • The new bands in the sub-6 GHz region will feature much larger relative percent bandwidth (n77 = 24%, n78 = 14%, n79 = 12.8%) than existing bands (B41 = 7.5%, B40= 4.2%, 5 GHz Wi-Fi = 12.7%).
  • The instantaneous signal modulation bandwidth for NR is extended up to 100 MHz in Bands n41, n77, n78, n79.
  • Contiguous intra-band EN-DC instantaneous bandwidth is 120 MHz and 196 MHz for non-contiguous.
  • Conventional envelope tracking (ET) technologies are hard pressed to expand beyond 60 MHz. While the industry waits for new ET technologies to meet the 100 MHz challenge, average power tracking (APT) will be required for early proof of concept work.
  • High Power User Equipment (HPUE)�"Power Class 2 (Specific to TDD bands n41/77/78/79)
  • Optimized system design will be critical to achieving minimal post-PA loss to deliver HPUE benefits.
New Technologies Required for 5G NR�"Enabling RF Front-End

This discussion leads us to what technologies, both current and new, will be required for dual connectivity 5G RF front-end. Early implementations of 5G will be deployed using dual connectivity, requiring that 5G NR is overlaid onto existing 4G LTE networks. Adding NRs alongside existing 4G LTE multi-band carrier aggregation stresses system performance and ultimately impacts the user experience.

At a high level, it makes sense to review the technical requirements from two separate frequency bandwidths—below 3 GHz and 3 to 6 GHz.

When thinking about 4G LTE refarming, it is important to understand that it will take place in relatively narrow channels using conventional power amplifier (PA) and filter technology. While some improvements in PA output power and linearity can be expected in FDD bands below 3 GHz, sufficient performance in 4G LTE and 5G NR from the same PA duplexer paths that exist today can be generally achieved. This low band technology is not only adequate (even if not optimized for 5G), but with small improvements in output power and linearity, it can be optimized for 5G NR performance.

These are just a few of the new technologies and developments to consider for the impending 5G implementation. Many challenges within the RF front-end require increasingly sophisticated solutions to advance the vision and promise of 5G. With decades of experience powering multiple generations of wireless communications, Skyworks is bringing its latest developments and vast technology portfolio to OEMs worldwide to enable vital connectivity.

You can read more in our latest white paper: "5G NR Solutions: Revolutionary Applications Here Sooner Than You Think."

Skyworks Solutions, Inc. is empowering the wireless networking revolution. Our highly innovative analog semiconductors are connecting people, places, and things spanning many new and previously unimagined applications within the aerospace, automotive, broadband, cellular infrastructure, connected home, industrial, medical, military, smartphone, tablet, and wearable markets.

Skyworks is a global company with engineering, marketing, operations, sales, and support facilities located throughout Asia, Europe, and North America and is a member of the S&P 500® and Nasdaq-100® market indices (NASDAQ: SWKS).

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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