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Qualcomm aces its wireless infrastructure re-entry

May 2022

LightCounting highlights from Qualcomm 5G Summit

It was on October 23, 2020, during a pandemic-induced massive lockdown, that Qualcomm added new 5G RAN semiconductor platforms designed to support various flavors of open and virtualized architectures to its small cell chipset portfolio. At that time, Qualcomm also said it would deliver engineering samples of its new 5G RAN platforms in the first half of 2022 to select network equipment vendors. Now 18 months later, this is a mission accomplished and the list of vendors’ collaborations keeps growing:

  • November 4, 2021, Qualcomm announced a strategic collaboration with NEC Corporation on the development of a 5G open and virtualized distributed unit (vDU) using the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card. This partnership is under the flag of the 5G Open RAN Ecosystem (OREC) initiative, which is led by NTT DOCOMO and aims at accelerating the adoption of O-RAN compliant, virtualized, cloud-native 5G solutions.
  • February 17, 2022, Qualcomm and HPE announced a plan to collaborate to deliver a new 5G vDU combining Qualcomm’s X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and the RAN-optimized HPE ProLiant DL110 Gen10 Plus Telco Server to deliver an optimized 5G vDU.
  • February 24, 2022, Qualcomm announced a collaboration with Rakuten Symphony to develop next generation 5G radio units (RUs) with massive MIMO capabilities and DUs using Qualcomm’s X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and its massive MIMO QRU100 5G RAN platform, for open RAN 5G deployments.
  • February 28, 2022, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, Qualcomm made a similar announcement with Mavenir: a collaboration to expand Mavenir’s fresh OpenBeam portfolio of 5G RUs ranging from mmWave to massive MIMO (e.g., 64T64R) with Qualcomm’s QRU100 5G RAN Platform. In addition, Mavenir said it would develop vDU RAN software based on Qualcomm’s X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card. The products are expected to be available for global deployments sometime in 2023.
  • March 2, 2022, also at MWC22, Qualcomm announced a collaboration with Fujitsu for a next generation mmWave DU and RU. Under the arrangement, Fujitsu operates within NTT DOCOMO’s 5G OREC initiative and supports the deployment of integrated DU-RU modules. It’s worth mentioning that Fujitsu, NEC, HPE, Mavenir—where Dell is also a partner that directly competes with Qualcomm’s accelerator card—and Qualcomm are all among the 13 partners in NTT DOCOMO’s OREC initiative (more details in our Japan Wireless Infrastructure report).
  • May 11, 2022, at last week’s Qualcomm 5G Summit in San Diego, California, Qualcomm made a new announcement of a collaboration for the development of next-generation massive MIMO RUs and DUs, this time though with Vietnam’s Viettel Qualcomm’s X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and massive MIMO QRU100 5G RAN platform will be combined with Viettel’s hardware and software systems to accelerate the commercial deployment of open RAN massive MIMO architectures. It’s worth noting that in January 2020, Viettel, a military-owned company known for its in-house development and production of telecom network equipment, announced its homemade 5G base station, also known as a gNodeB.

At the Qualcomm 5G Summit held in sunny but windy San Diego from Monday to Wednesday last week, May 9-11, we discovered a reinvigorated Qualcomm that under Cristiano Amon’s leadership is firing on all 5G cylinders with mmWave and open RAN at the top of its agenda.

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