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Test Results Indicate the Great Potential of 5G mmWave, and Qualcomm Leads in the Chip Development

by Guang Yang | Aug 12, 2020

Ookla recently conducted a speed test for 5G in the US. The test results indicate that 5G running in the millimeter wave provided download speeds about twenty times (20x) the speed of 4G LTE and five times (5x) the speed of the 5G phone without the access to mmWave (see the exhibit below).
5G speed test
  • The 4G LTE speed estimate comes from Ookla’s report for Q1 2020.
  • The mmWave network in the tests provided 400 MHz of bandwidth.Some mmWave networks provide 800 MHz of bandwidth, which would double the peak available data rate for a device.
  • The chart is based on analysis by Ookla® of Speed Test Intelligence® data comparing top provider results using mmWave deployed in Q1 2020, and presented by Qualcomm here.

 

The high speed and high capacity of 5G mmWave can significantly improve operator’s capability to handle the data traffic surge. In Feb 2020, Verizon reported that fans used 21.5 TB of data on its network in and around the stadium during the SuperBowl LIV in Miami, almost doubled since SuperBowl LI in 2017. The data traffic will be further boosted with the innovative applications introduced, such as multi-view replay, VR broadcasting, etc. Such applications had been deployed in PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.  5G mmWave can be a powerful tool for operators to handle the traffic surge in those crowded open areas such as stadium, transport hub, dense urban centre, shopping district, etc.

Besides the speed and capacity advantages, the low cost of acquiring mmWave spectrum could also provide operators more flexibility in terms of business models and competition strategies. The exhibit below summarizes some spectrum auctions in different frequency bands. Operators can usually acquire mmWave spectrum at a much lower cost per MHz per population than the spectrum in the low or mid band. This could enable operators to take more aggressive strategies when they compete with wireline broadband technologies. Particularly in the post-COVID era, work from home and school from home push up the demand for home broadband. 5G mmWave based Fixed Wireless Access could be a good candidate technology for operators to respond the changing demand rapidly.

 

      LB

    MB

     HB

Spectrum

600 MHz

3.5 GHz

3.5 GHz

24 GHz

37/39/47 GHz

Country

U.S.

Germany

Italy

U.S.

U.S.

Year Completed

2017

2019

2019

2019

2019

Approx. Avg. Price Paid per MHz per POP

$0.93

$0.20

$0.42

$0.00927

$0.00718

As of July 31, 2020, only Qualcomm was shipping mmWave-capable chipsets and mmWave RF subsystems (millimeter wave RF antenna-in-package or AIP modules) for 5G devices.  Currently 23 of the 185 shipping smartphone variants that support 5G include mmWave support.  All of these mmWave phones use Qualcomm cellular radio chipsets and Qualcomm mmWave RF components.

Next year Huawei, Samsung, and MediaTek could introduce mmWave cellular radio chipsets and mmWave RF subsystems, but Qualcomm has a technical lead and at least an 18 month head start in market. 

Actually Qualcomm is also leading in the 5G performance in mid-band. Ookla conducted a test for sub-6 GHz 5G in the UK in Q1 2020 (result presented by Qualcomm here). All of the fastest 5G phones in the tests used Qualcomm Snapdragon modem-RF systems. 

All above aspects have been discussed in our latest report Best Performing 5G Smartphones Use Qualcomm Modem-to-antenna Solutions for Sub-6 and Millimeter Wave. The Chinese version of the report has been published as well. Please feel free to access the complimentary report for more details.

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