On October 20, RIL announced that it will join hands with US-based Qualcomm to develop an open and interoperable interface compliant architecture-based 5G solutions based on homegrown technologies.
The tie-up puts India in an exclusive club of nations like US, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland and Germany with the capability to offer superfast speeds of 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps) to users.
During their testing, Jio and Qualcomm announced that they achieved speeds of 1 Gbps on the Reliance Jio 5GNR solution, leveraging the Qualcomm® 5G RAN Platforms. This achievement not only supports Jio’s 5G credentials but also signifies the entry of Jio and India into the Gigabit 5G NR product portfolio.
Reliance Jio and Qualcomm have successfully tested 5G technology in India and have achieved speeds of a mammoth 1 Gbps on Jio’s 5G solution using Qualcomm’s platform.
What else will the indigenous 5G technology offer? Let’s find out .
Reliance Jio-Qualcomm 5G network deal: What does this mean for India?
What does this mean for users in India?
Jio users will be able to browse the internet at up to 1Gbps speeds once 5G networks rollout in India. Jio, which is India’s largest mobile operator, has over 400 Mn subscribers.
The partnership with Qualcomm builds on the commitment by RIL that Jio was developing made-in-India 5G technology, giving the country control over coveted know-how that is the foundation of a digital economy.
Currently, only a few countries around the world have 5G networks rolled out. These include the US, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland and Germany. In India, the government is yet to allot spectrum for 5G. India is expected to auction 5G airwaves in 2021, and Jio is ready to deploy its network the same year.
Jio is ready with a world-class 5G solution. Field deployment can happen next year. This 5G product will be available for trials as soon as the spectrum is available. Jio Platforms will be positioned for 5G solution to other telecom operators.
Smartphone brands too are launching 5G-ready devices in India. However, a vast majority of 5G smartphones are available in the premium to ultra-premium category.
Reliance Jio, in partnership with Google, is developing affordable 4G and 5G smartphones based on Android, a development which could bring cheap smartphones to hundreds of millions of Indians and undercut dominant vendors from China.
Reliance Jio has detailed its 5G plans which will be supported by Qualcomm. Jio, which started its public rollout in 2016 as the first 4G-only network in India, offering voice and data over the same LTE connection, has now moved into 5G, and it’s expected to launch a value-for-money 5G smartphone that could help bring goal of a 2G-mukt-Bharat (2G free India). The telco, which catapulted itself into being one of India’s top telecom companies offering liberal free trials and extremely low rates, recently became the first provider to cross 400 Mn subscribers. In the last few months, RIL has also drawn huge amounts of funding from the likes of Facebook and Google, and when 5G launches, it could well see a fresh round of growth.
Jio has developed a fully indigenous 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) product. Qualcomm also said that Snapdragon will support OpenRAN 5G, along with Jio and various other telcos.
RIL’s long-standing collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies will accelerate the development of a full suite of 5G products and solutions, as Jio continues to support and drive open technologies in RAN.
From Silicon to software all the functions of a Software-defined RAN will get tested at Jio Scale. These standards-based open RAN technologies along with the new Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms will help to bridge the gigabit digital gap to deliver the Inclusive Digital Platform that is so much a necessity today for lives and livelihood in India and beyond.
Qualcomm Technologies aims to deliver cutting-edge technology for virtualized, flexible and interoperable 5G infrastructure across the globe. It recently achieved over a 1 Gbps milestone on the Reliance Jio 5G NR product, leveraging Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms, and looks forward to expand efforts with Reliance Jio to enable flexible and scalable 5G RAN deployments.
The company further noted that the portfolio of Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms is designed to provide a foundation for flexible, virtualized, scalable, and interoperable cellular network infrastructure. The platforms offer scalable support for a wide range of infrastructure categories ranging from macro base stations with massive MIMO to small cells, and feature support for all key frequency bands on sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum.
At the RIL AGM which took place in July this year, the company made a number of announcements, including a partnership with Google to develop and Android-based operating system affordable 4G and 5G smartphones, a mixed reality headset with holographic video calling, and much more. The result of this partnership is rumoured to be a smartphone priced at under Rs. 5,000, or $68.
As of now, we don’t know when the 5G smartphone will launch, but predictions from analysts suggest we can expect it in December. It’s worth noting that Google already had the Android One programme, which was meant to promote phones with close to stock Android designed to run on entry level devices.
Experts had pointed out that the Reliance-Google deal could be a huge challenge for Chinese handset makers in the country. The $4.5 billion (Rs. 33,737 crores in India) deal under which Alphabet’s Google will collaborate with India’s Reliance Industries poses a major challenge to Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi and BBK Electronics, owner of the Realme, Oppo, and Vivo brands, which currently dominate a $2 billion (roughly Rs. 14,955 crores) market for sub-$100 (roughly Rs. 7,400) smartphones in India.
Thus Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch. This will enable it to launch a world-class 5G service in India using 100 percent home-grown technologies and solutions. This Made-in-India 5G solution will be ready for trials as soon as 5G spectrum is available.
However, at the moment, 5G networks have not been launched in the country, as the government still has to allot spectrum for 5G trials, which would be necessary ahead of any rollout. A recent report quoting sources within the Home Ministry, suggested that trials may not take place this year after all, which could be a stumbling block for Reliance Jio’s plans.
What is a radio access network?
Cell phones use radio waves to communicate by converting your voice and data into digital signals to send through as radio waves. In order for your cell phone to connect to a network or the internet, it connects first through a radio access network (RAN). Radio access networks utilize radio transceivers to connect you to the cloud. Most base stations (aka transceivers) are primarily connected via fiber backhaul to the mobile core network.
A RAN provides radio access and assists to coordinate network resources across wireless devices. Devices primarily connect to cellular network via LTE or 5G NR connections. Silicon chips in the core network as well as the user equipment (like your phone or laptop) help enable the functionality of the RAN.
What is 5G RAN?
Radio access networks have evolved over the years as cellular technology is now at 5G. Today, RANs can support multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) antennas, wide spectrum bandwidths, multi-band carrier aggregation and more.
This evolution of RAN for 5G will have a huge impact on wireless technologies, including enabling Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) and network slicing. These RANs of the future will also contribute to the lower latency that makes 5G so powerful.
6G expectations come true.
A key enabler for the intelligent information society of 2030, 6G networks are expected to provide performance superior to 5G and satisfy emerging services and applications.
We have drafted our vision of what 6G will be and described usage scenarios and requirements for multi-terabyte per second (Tb/s) and intelligent 6G networks which is a large-dimensional and autonomous network architecture that integrates space, air, ground, and underwater networks to provide ubiquitous and unlimited wireless connectivity. We have also envisioned artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for autonomous networks and innovative air-interface design. Finally, we have identified several promising technologies for the 6G ecosystem, including
- Terahertz (THz) communications
- Very-large-scale antenna arrays [i.e., supermassive (SM) multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO)],
- Large intelligent surfaces (LISs) and holographic beamforming (HBF),
- Orbital angular momentum (OAM) multiplexing,
- Laser and visible-light communications (VLC),
- Blockchain-based spectrum sharing,
- Quantum communications and computing,
- Molecular communications, and
- The Internet of Nano-Things.
6G will “unify the experience across physical, digital and biological worlds”.
The leading use cases expected for 6G foresee vastly increased interaction between human and intelligent machine called “Internet of Senses”. This includes both enhanced brain-computer interaction, and in-body monitoring.
Another key use case is Connected Intelligence, or Internet of AI, meaning AI interacting with each other, intelligent machines serving other intelligent machines. Such a scenario will have strong implications on network designs which are now limited by human senses.
With 6G poised to operate on much higher frequency than 5G (for example the FCC granted >95GHz for experimental use), the shorter wavelengths will allow for higher localisation accuracy, possibly down to centimetre level positioning. One outcome of such precision will be full digital representations of the physical world, or “digital twins”, by also fusing data from other sources including network data. Network operators will also be able to generate interconnected and collaborative digital twins, and digital representation of larger objects and their environment. Nokia Bell Lab has alreay demonstrated a digital twin of a New Jersey street with drone-captured high-resolution data for wireless network optimisation, for example accurate signal propagation prediction.
These use cases need to be supported by new, advanced underlying technologies that will provide guidelines for research in the discipline in the coming years. New spectrum technologies is one such domain. This includes both radio technology on the so-called D-Band (140–180GHz) and above, and progress in material sciences. Transceiver design for such radio frequencies will be more sophisticated, and may need to use glass interposers instead of silicon. “Beyond Silicon” as one of the leading 6G challenge.
Network architecture is another key technology requirement that needs to advance in the run-up to 6G. One such advancement is the trend of RAN-Core convergence. This is primarily driven by the need to move the core closer to RAN for low latency service as well as to make the RAN more centralised towards the cloud. A related trend highlighted is the demand for hyper specialised slicing. Network slicing should move from resource reservation in 5G to providing separate software stacks and functions by using different micro-services.
Importance and demand for innovation is crucial to meet 6G’s new KPIs. Network security in 6G is also crucial. In 6G a “sixth sense”, for example using real-time analytics of sensor data by AI, it is believed that the holistic solution of hardware-based security, trusted computing, and secured enclave will form the base of the future computing networks.
When it comes to the timing, it would be around 2030 when 6G will start commercialisation. 3GPP will start more concrete 6G specification work in R22, which we expect to see in 2029.
“We have 10 years to be proved wrong, and now can have fun predicting the future.”