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Any customer can use new 5G product, working with several Indian partners: Qualcomm

Qualcomm executive said the company was “working with several partners in India” and around the world and any customer was free to build on the horizontal 5G platform announced by it.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: October 22, 2020 8:23:46 pm
Any customers can use new 5G product, working with several Indian partners: Qualcomm (Image: Qualcomm)

Durga Malladi, senior vice-president and general manager, 4G/5G, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc on Wednesday said his company was “working with several partners in India” and around the world and any customer was free to build on the horizontal 5G platform announced by it.

“Our solution is horizontal platform, so we are not providing a complete solution anyway. So, any customer of ours can avail themselves of this horizontal platform and then it is up to them to start building the software and the rest of the stack on top of it and come up with a full blown solution,” Malladi told indianexpress.com at a roundtable as part of the Qualcomm 5G Summit. A day before, the telecom major had announced a tie up with Reliance Jio and its wholly owned subsidiary Radisys Corporation to “develop open and interoperable interface compliant architecture based 5G solutions with a virtualised RAN”.

Asked how long it would take for Jio to develop and implement this new technology, Malladi said that was best answered by the Indian company. “Clearly there is a network that is already in place today with 4G. So there is a transition that needs to occur from today’s network towards a network that is based upon disaggregation of RAN (radio access network) with some of the elements coming in from someone and the rest of the software elements coming from a different entity,” he explained, adding that though this work has started with a large number of partners, it will take time.

“It is not a greenfield network and therefore it will take a little bit there… You know, it’s one of those things wherein the focus is more on making sure that we do the work. We believe that it takes a handful of years… we have announced some sampling dates of our product lines, just to spark that initiative.” Putting things in context and suggesting a three-year timeframe, he underlined that “this is a gradual shift towards a new paradigm”.

Rajen Vagadia, VP & President, Qualcomm India & SAARC, compared Qualcomm’s new take on 5G to Lego bricks. “We are one part of the Lego. And then you add some software stacks and built the hardware around the SoC (system on a chip). So it’s like the phone, when you give the SoC you give almost the entire solution you give the RF front end, you already stitched it. It makes it a lot easier than before,” Vagadia explained. He said there are more merits than demerits that rolling out 5G in this manner.

In the case of India, this is better, he said, since operators will be able to gradually scale the network. “You can start with a few circles or a few highly-congested areas, you can develop it and then gradually scale. You can do that to offload the networks, and actually give the services in those urban dense areas, and then gradually go expand it to rural,” he explained.

How the Qualcomm approach is different

The usual practice now is to follow a monolithic architecture for 5G networks where one vendor provides everything from antennas to the baseband and stack. The contrasting approach is disaggregated, with some elements from another and an eventual infrastructure vendor who builds the whole box. The extreme approach is to get even the antennas, transceiver and baseband from different vendors. But this, though a ‘functional radio’ is not what you want for high performance, explains Malladi.

What Qualcomm does is to lump all of this together and tightly integrate it as one solution. “This level of integration in the radio actually made sure that now there are fewer elements at play, and therefore, it makes it easier to go ahead and launch the disaggregated network,” Malladi said.

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