Vodafone, Ericsson, and Qualcomm Technologies have successfully tested a new radio and chipset technology that will enable customers to connect many more low-cost, energy-efficient devices to fast 5G networks.
The technology, called RAN Reduced Capability (RedCap), is a new software enhancement that optimizes the network for low-powered devices like smart watches, credit card readers and portable routers, without draining their battery life.
The companies demonstrated the technology in a European first test in September in the Spanish city of Ciudad Real, using Vodafone’s live, multi-vendor testing 5G network named ‘CREATE’ (Ciudad Real España Advanced Testing Environment). The test used Qualcomm’s Snapdragon® X35 platform, the first New Radio Light modem radio frequency system, which is designed for low-bandwidth, low-power devices that are expected to arrive in 2024.
The technology will allow the development of many new consumer wearables and IoT devices that can benefit from the low-latency, speed, and scale of Vodafone’s pan-European 5G network. The technology will also complement Vodafone’s work on Application Programmable Interfaces (APIs) that can prolong the battery life of customer smartphones and devices by changing the parameters of the network.
Head of Open RAN at Vodafone, Franciso Martin, stated that “Vodafone is continually looking to improve its network for customers whilst reducing energy consumption.” He added that “using our unique multi-vendor 5G network, we were able to host and validate this new technology with Ericsson and Qualcomm which in the future will support the proliferation of low-powered devices like lighter virtual reality glasses, smoke alarms or handheld retail inventory machines.”