As the 5G rollout continues, technology is adapting to enable growth and embrace the capabilities of 5G. In fact, in our three part series on 5G and the Killer Applications it will enable, we highlighted a series of opportunities for 5G that would require technological advancements – check out the series HERE.
Most recently, a technology that has become a talking point across the telecommunications industry is Reduced Capability New Radio (RedCap). RedCap presents as an evolution on New Radio systems, not dissimilar to 4G LTE.
Highlighting the reasons for RedCap, Ericsson explained that “the flexibility and scalability of 5G NR makes it possible to introduce timely enhancements to address new use cases to help expand the 5G ecosystem and connect more and more devices to the network.
“[By adding RedCap to 5G NR], devices can facilitate the expansion of the NR device ecosystem to cater to the use cases that are not yet best served by current NR specifications.”
However, while opportunity exists, the reality is that RedCap is a complicated technology, so to explain what it is we spoke with Vecta Labs US President, Ben Cardwell to understand more:
Q1. Can you explain what RedCap is?
RedCap is RAN software evolution for existing networks, designed to enable more 5G connections.
As a technology, it enhances and generates new use cases for IoT devices like smartwatches, wearables, health monitors and industrial sensors.
Data rates will be similar to that of LTE devices, but it will enable lower latency and allow more energy efficient processors so that device batteries will last longer.
OEMs such as Ericsson and Nokia will offer upgrades to global operators via network software.
Q2. Why should telecoms providers and people working in the industry be paying attention to RedCap?
The industry should be paying attention to RedCap as it is effectively reserving radio resources for IoT and other “light” devices there will be much more capacity on the network to services an order of magnitude more devices that exist today.
It will make the power and processing requirements of the devices much lower, causing sensors, smart watches, etc to be manufactured at a materially lower cost and sold to the consumer at a lower price.
This is likely to trigger a plethora of new sensors and wearable devices to be developed for new IoT applications that were impractical prior to 5G RedCap.
Q3. What’s your best prediction around where RedCap might be in the next 12 or so months, and what benefits might this have for the telecommunications industry as a whole?
The 5G RedCap network upgrades are tipped to be available sometime in 2024 by most OEMs.
Also, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X35 processor/5G modem for devices will be released in early 2024.
12 months from now, I would expect to see initial devices coming to market that are RedCap capable, and the networks to be in the upgrade process to support them.
If you are interested in finding out just what 5G might have in store, please do check out our three-part series on the 5G Killer Apps – you can read:
Part 1 HERE
Part 2 HERE
And, Part 3 HERE