We don’t yet know when Apple will choose to support 5G in future iPhones and iPads, but the telecoms industry is gearing-up to have at least some level of 5G service operational next year.

One critical element of making 5G connectivity widely available is ensuring enough cells in cities – with ‘small cells’ key to this …

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Current 5G systems have extremely limited range – as little as 250 feet. It’s effectively more like a WiFi hotspot than a traditional cell. The only way you can provide meaningful coverage with these is by having lots of small, inexpensive cell systems scattered throughout towns and cities: so-called small cells.

Small cells are sufficiently compact to install in things like street lamps, and also to be installed indoors in places like shopping malls. Qualcomm has today announced what it describes as ‘the industry’s first 5G NR solution targeted for small cells and remote radio head deployments.’

5G NR – or New Radio – gets pretty technical, but the tl;dr version is that it’s a core component in the establishment of 5G networks, and making it available in small cell form is an important step in making 5G practical by next year. Qualcomm’s product, catchily-named the FSM100xx, is remotely upgradable, so suitable for the still-evolving 5G standard.

So far, we’re just at the testing stage, with Apple, carriers and others carrying out field tests in a variety of settings.


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