Corning and Qualcomm collaborate on 5G mmWave in-building coverage solution
Written by: James Atkinson | Published:

Corning and Qualcomm are to collaborate on the development of 5G mmWave in-building coverage solutions for enterprises and public venues.

These 5G systems are designed to combine Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G and mmWave technology leadership with Corning’s industry-proven small cell expertise, derived from its acquisition of small cell vendor SpiderCloud in 2017, to deliver affordable and easy-to-install 5G-ready networks indoors.

The resulting Corning systems are expected to be among the first that are designed to deliver 5G–NR capability over mmWave spectrum in the indoor segment that includes enterprises such as offices, university campuses, hospitals, hotels, shopping centres, and more. The 5G systems will leverage Corning’s virtualised RAN architecture to manage the attached mmWave small cells.

By utilising the Qualcomm FSM100xx 5G RAN platform, Corning believes it has access to leading-edge mmWave capabilities which are designed to facilitate small, powerful and power-efficient mmWave infrastructure for cost-effective and scalable indoor deployments.

This working relationship is expected to enable Corning to implement new functionality around concurrent beamforming, advanced scheduling, and other features necessary to support the unique characteristics of indoor environments. When combined with Corning’s LTE based Enterprise RAN (E-RAN) small cell systems based on the Qualcomm FSM99xx 4G RAN platform, mobile operators are expected to rapidly deploy 5G-NSA services.

Speaking to Land Mobile, Michelle Engarto, vice president, wireless product line management, Corning Optical Communications, said: “We need to provide elegant, low cost, easy to install and manage, scalable 5G solutions. We will launch commercially very soon - later this year.”

Asked whether indoor 5G mmWave small cells are needed yet, Engarto replied: “There absolutely is demand for the product. We are talking to our customers and they are showing that there is a real demand for this product in the indoor space.”

Corning will be able to leverage its existing 3G, LTE-LAA and 4G LTE small cell platform for 5G. Engarto said that the two technologies must work together seamlessly, so there is work to do to enable that. “It is a challenge, but we know how to do that.”

Engarto explained that one difference between 4G and 5G mmWave is that the latter does not propagate very far and it does not penetrate walls well. “This calls for a different RF design. We can utilise new 5G features like beamforming to make 5G effective, so you need to develop the algorithms to make this work.”

She added that the other challenge for enterprises looking to implement 5G coverage is that repeaters are not as effective as in the past. “Transmitting the 5G signal into the building from outside using mmWave is not going to work well, so you need the cell inside the building,” said Engarto. “So, you have to consider doing something inside the building and that something is going to be different to 3G/4G indoor architectures”

Corning’s existing 4G small cells operate using Power over Ethernet, so they can use existing Wi-Fi LAN architectures. But 5G will be different as the applications it is designed to support require more power and more bandwidth. Composite cables will be needed.

Corning has composite cables which thread copper strands inside the fibre, so this means one cable can be used to deliver both power and bandwidth to the edge nodes and only one cable pull is needed.

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