In a significant advancement for IoT technology, Vodafone, Ericsson, and Qualcomm have successfully conducted the first data sessions using Reduced Capability (RedCap) RAN on Vodafone’s live 5G test network, CREATE, in Spain. Conducted on September 21, this trial marks a pivotal step in optimising 5G technology for simpler, more energy-efficient connections for IoT devices.
RedCap technology, distinct from the demands of 5G smartphones, offers basic connectivity ideal for less complex, low-power IoT gadgets. This innovation could transform the use of 5G for a multitude of IoT applications, from sensors and meters to asset trackers, by minimising bandwidth and power requirements. It enables smaller, cost-effective, battery-operated devices to efficiently utilise 5G networks without the comprehensive functionality smartphones require.
Dino Flore, Qualcomm’s VP of Technology in Europe, emphasised the milestone’s significance in paving the way for new commercial devices and IoT connectivity use cases. The trials incorporated New Radio Light (NR Light) technology, allowing less powerful IoT devices to connect with 5G networks, resulting in smaller products with longer battery life and reduced costs.
Qualcomm’s contribution to the demonstration came through its Snapdragon X35 modem, specially designed for NR Light applications. This development opens the door for embedding basic 5G connectivity in various IoT devices, including smart meters, wearables, and remote sensors, potentially revolutionising existing applications and fostering new 5G-enabled innovations.
Francisco Martín, Head of Open RAN at Vodafone, highlighted the trial’s significance in demonstrating networks’ readiness to support a broader range of energy-efficient IoT devices. Vodafone’s diverse 5G network provided an optimal environment to validate this groundbreaking IoT connectivity approach.
The collaboration among these companies continues, focusing on advancing simplified 5G technology for low-bandwidth IoT devices, with the anticipation of commercial product launches by 2024. Their efforts are also geared towards hastening the uptake of IoT innovations that leverage the latest 5G developments.
Isidro Nieto, Ericsson’s Head of Vodafone Network Technology, underscored the importance of 5G RedCap in unlocking new consumer and enterprise IoT use cases. Ericsson’s commitment to exploring novel ways to maximise 5G services is evident in this joint demonstration, signalling a growing market momentum for RedCap support.