Exploring 5G RedCap: Efficiency Leap for IoT Integration

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In a recent development, Ericsson, Vodafone, and Qualcomm Technologies have accomplished a milestone in European network technology. They demonstrated the first-ever data sessions using Radio Access Network Reduced Capability (RedCap) on a European network. This achievement, carried out on 21 September 2023 in Ciudad Real, Spain, presents a simplified, efficient mode of data transmission for a range of Internet of Things (IoT) and other connected devices.

The demonstration employed Ericsson’s RedCap RAN software on Vodafone Spain’s live testing 5G platform, known as Ciudad Real España Advanced Testing Environment (CREATE). RedCap enhances the connectivity potential for less complicated devices, enabling more of them to connect to 5G networks and transmit data both economically and efficiently. Such benefits are applicable to a wide array of devices, from consumer wearables like smartwatches to various IoT devices such as smart water meters.

A new technology called New Radio Light (NR-Light) also featured in the demonstration. This technology complements existing network APIs developed by Vodafone to extend the battery life of customer devices. It is well-suited for simpler devices, which can therefore be smaller, more cost-effective, and have longer battery durability than traditional mobile broadband devices.

Adding to the effectiveness of the partnerships, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon® X35 platform, the first NR-Light modem RF, played a pivotal role. This platform aims to mediate between high-speed mobile broadband gadgets and low-bandwidth, energy-efficient devices. The demonstration is a precursor to the expected arrival of commercial Snapdragon-based devices in 2024.

Dino Flore, Vice President, Technology, Qualcomm Europe inc., noted the significance of the occasion. As he quoted, “This successful demonstration is an exciting moment for OEMs, network operators, and network users…We will continue to work with our customers, industry experts, and our collaboration partners to accelerate the creation of 5G devices which present exciting new use cases for enterprises and consumers.”

Francisco Martín, Head of Open RAN, Vodafone, emphasized the collaborative effort involved in the successful trial. He stated, “We are delighted that our unique multi-vendor 5G network, CREATE, was able to host and validate such an innovative trial in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson.”

Similarly, Isidro Nieto, Global Customer Unit Vodafone, Head of Technology Networks, Ericsson, expressed delight at being part of this significant collaboration. “5G Redcap opens up new use cases for both enterprise and consumer segments… this joint demo shows that the support for RedCap is gaining market momentum,” said Nieto.

This ongoing innovation in telecom technology continues to keep enthusiasts engaged with high expectations for what’s next. With trials like these, the potential of 5G architecture to support an increasingly wide range of energy-efficient devices becomes more promising. The constant evolution of networks, increase in device connectivity, and the propensity for energy efficiency are clear indicators of the integral role these technologies will play in the future.

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