5G connectivity coming to a device near you in early 2019 | Source: Pexels

5G’s future qualified by Qualcomm

ACCORDING to Product Marketing Director at Qualcomm, Sherif Hanna, devices and network services on the 5G network are now expected in the first half of 2019.

But, he added in an unpublished interview with The Register‘s Australian office, that the 5G network currently showcased at the Winter Olympics in South Korea is not the form of 5G to be deployed worldwide:

“A lot of the demonstrations right now are […] not based on the global standard for 5G ratified by the 3GPP. It’s using a competing specification that was used by a few select operators, but not adopted as the global standard”, he said.

5G’s first appearance will manifest as an overlay onto the existing 4G LTE network but will probably carry the 5G label.

Current 4G users may be aware that often, so-called 4G is not available (although carriers often advertise it as such); in its real sense, 4G should be in accord with the published 4G Advanced specification, rather than a “4G” overlay while networks are upgraded.

However, the timing of the 5G project has been cast into some doubt recently as Broadcom continues its attempts to acquire Qualcomm, the latter accepted as leading the spearhead to create the new hardware and systems for 5G.

One of the stipulations of a take-over is the replacement of the board of directors at Qualcomm – and a change in management would worry markets, investors, partners and companies contributing to the 5G project.

If Qualcomm is removed from its leading position in 5G implementation, there are only a couple of other chipset & modem makers capable at the moment of producing the hardware necessary for 5G within the published timescale.

Amongst these are HiSilicon (a division of Huawei) and Intel; the latter is behind the current 5G demonstration at the Winter Olympics. Both organizations are thought to be at least twelve months behind the curve defined by Qualcomm.

In the US, Verizon is the first network carrier to conduct tests using the 3GPP-compliant definition of 5G on a licensed spectrum. The test used Nokia 5G network technology based on a 5G NR (new radio) device provided by Qualcomm.

Ed Chan, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Architect at Verizon said:

“By partnering with Nokia and Qualcomm to combine 5G technology with our deep millimeter wave spectrum, we’re well on the way to being the first to usher in the next era of wireless communications for customers.”

“Qualcomm Technologies is committed to supporting the launch of standards-based commercial 5G networks and products beginning in 2019,” said Joe Glynn, Vice President of Business Development at Qualcomm.

“The successful completion of standard-compliant 5G NR millimeter wave testing with leading mobile industry innovators such as Nokia and Verizon prove that we are well on the path to making this a reality,” added Joe.

The current board of directors at Qualcomm released a second unanimous response recently which declined the last and final offer from Broadcom for an acquisition.

If Broadcom wishes to continue down that road, then a hostile takeover remains the only option, which will be voted on at a March 6 shareholders’ meeting.

The outcome of this vote of moneyed individuals may well have severe effects on the timing of 5G deployment across the globe, and much of the expected technological progress which hangs off the new standard.