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Quectel Master Class: What’s new in 5G networks? Tips and troubleshooting

The second in a new series of Quectel Master Classes, which are designed to teach listeners new techniques and to help familiarize FAEs with solutions to common problems, was held recently, covering what’s new in 5G networks with tips and troubleshooting for 5G.

With 5G networks rolling out across the globe, the theory is turning into reality and, although the ubiquitous 5G dream is not here yet, growing familiarity is seeing network operators and other organizations do more with 5G technology. The Master Class began with an introduction that briefly explained why 5G is necessary. This comes down to the obvious 5G attributes of much greater bandwidth to enable higher data rates to be achieved and, of course, the much better peak capacity that 5G offers over previous cellular generations. In addition, the massive connectivity and always-on performance targets of 5G new radio (NR) were detailed.

Next, the Master Class moved on to describe what’s new in 5G networks. It began with an explanation of the evolution of base station naming, introducing gNB as Next Generation NodeB and then moved on to discuss network configurations – Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA), discussing how network evolutions are affecting the control plane and the user plane.

The Master Class then explored SA Option 2 and Option 5, detailing how SA Option 2 is supported by Quectel 5G modules. Similarly, the Master Class moved on to explain the flavours of NSA Option 3, including Options 3a and 3x which are supported by Quectel 5G modules.

Next, the Master Class detailed frequency range developments in mmWave and Sub-6 Ghz bands and explained the current global deployment landscape and status for both Sub-6 and mmWave 4G and 5G deployments.

Turning back to 5G techniques, the Master Class focused on Carrier Aggregation and Dual Connectivity, explaining how Carrier Aggregation will work in 5G and the theory of E-UTRAN New Radio Dual Connectivity. Later, the Master Class turned to Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) which allows an existing LTE carrier to operate 5G NR and LTE simultaneously with a simple software upgrade. DSS is interesting because it offers the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) for launching 5G in bands currently occupied by 4G.

The Master Class then turned to the Quectel product portfolio to detail the performance criteria of Quectel’s 5G module families, including the RG500 and RM500 families. The Master Class shared information on Quectel 5G solutions including reference to the FG50V Wi-Fi module and solutions for Wi-Fi routers, ethernet devices, laptops and USB dongles.

Different interfaces including PCIe and USB were then discussed, along with power consumption considerations which have a substantial impact on IoT deployments, especially for productions with long deployment lifecycles. Finally, in this section, the Master Class introduced Quectel’s range of antennas for 5G, explaining the demands of 5G and how the various antenna types can be deployed for optimum performance.

The Master Class concluded with a series of 5G tips which included advice on antenna mapping, AT commands, USB usage in Windows and PCIe usage. Additional areas in which the Quectel experts provided tips covered thermal considerations, including an example of a cooling system for a 5G module.