Enhanced Mobile Broadband Drives the Uptake of 5G for Mobile Devices

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4Q 2019 | IN-5652

The demand from consumers and enterprise users for the latest technology in their 5G devices hives rise to the demand for enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), which focuses on data-driven use cases that require high rates of data across a large coverage area, mainly via mobile devices including smartphones, wearables, tablets, laptops, and mobile broadband devices.

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How enhanced Mobile Broadband Will Improve Mobile Devices Celluar Connectivity

NEWS


The demand from consumers and enterprise users for the latest technology in their devices, now to include 5G cellular connectivity, is continuously increasing, with users hoping to gain improved data throughput, enhanced signal reliability, lower latency, and better network coverage for their devices. Integral to this objective is 5G enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), which focuses on data-driven use cases that require high rates of data across a large coverage area, mainly via mobile devices including smartphones, wearables, tablets, laptops, and mobile broadband devices. eMBB 5G can provide these devices with faster, more reliable cellular connectivity, offering consumers and enterprise users access improved streaming, lower latency gaming, new Augmented Reality (AR)R/Virtual Reality (VR) experiences, and other data-related applications.

eMBB can be implemented in different ways, allowing the network to better provide broadband in densely populated indoor and outdoor areas or as continuous and consistent connectivity on the go. Different use cases for eMBB have different needs from the network. For example, at a sports stadium, the requirement is for a large capacity of traffic from a larger number of users at the same time, but not for mobility as the users are stationary. Conversely, on a train, the requirement FOR eMBB is for a large degree of mobility due to the movement of the train, but not for capacity as the number of users is limited in comparison.

How Devices Will Benefit from 5G eMBB

IMPACT


Most mobile device types can benefit from the integration of 5G eMBB, particularly smartphones, tablets, mobile broadband devices, laptops, and wearables, although not all models and devices will initially see 5G. As 5G eMBB offers much faster data throughput, lower latency, and more stable connectivity than 4G, this improvement in User Experiences (UX) makes it highly desirable and advantageous to integrate 5G eMBB into these devices. This is particularly beneficial for smartphones, as consumers are increasingly expecting fast, stable cellular connectivity that offers higher and higher data rates. These improvements can all enhance UX by reducing the time it takes for a search to be performed, improving online gaming as latency is reduced, and allowing for 4K/8K video streaming due to higher data rates.

Mobile broadband devices are also starting to feature 5G connectivity, with devices such as HTC’s Mobile Smart Hub, Huawei’s Mobile Wi-Fi, and Inseego’s Mobile Hotspot providing the promise of 5G eMBB connectivity to multiple devices simultaneously.

Other eMBB devices, such as tablets and laptops, are currently limited in terms of connected cellular penetration rates, but this is expected to change with 5G. The ability to have “always on” 5G connectivity becomes far more compelling for these device types than for 4G. In terms of tablets, device manufacturers will likely look to use foldable technology as it is developed and improved, allowing for a large screen size in a foldable, smaller form factor, such as Apple’s rumored foldable 5G iPad. While the eMBB market penetration of 5G and foldable screens in tablets will be affected by high price points and an ongoing reticence for purchase by consumers, these new features could help stimulate the market as they will significantly improve the UX over 4G, providing fast, reliable cellular connectivity in a premium form factor. This will be particularly useful for remote workers, offering them greater flexibility by ensuring that they have access to any information that they require from their devices in any location.

In terms of laptops, vendors are exploring how 5G will aid users, allowing an “always on” connection to the faster cellular network. For example, Lenovo is hoping to release its Project Limitless 5G laptop, which will use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx 5G (SD8cx) compute platform along with its X55 5G modem and Radio Frequency Front End (RFFE) components. Lenovo is aiming to release the device in 2020, when it will be one of the first 5G laptops commercially available. Intel has also confirmed that it is working in partnership with MediaTek to develop a 5G reference design solution based on MediaTek’s 5G solution in order to enable Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to develop always-on 5G connected laptops and PCs beginning in 2021.

Wearables will also benefit from 5G eMBB in the future, giving them greater freedom from being tethered to smartphones than they have with 4G due to the improved, continuous connectivity and coverage, which is particularly important for healthcare tracking, where any changes in a wearer’s vitals need to be detected and sent to a healthcare professional immediately. However, wearables will be one of the slower mobile devices categories to get 5G connectivity, with the first devices not expected until at least 2022, although rumors suggest a 5G smartwatch may appear in 2020.

The Future of eMBB for 5G Mobile Devices

RECOMMENDATIONS


5G eMBB will provide a number of advantages to mobile devices over 4G, particularly in the form of improved, faster, continuous cellular connectivity for enhancing applications such as video streaming, gaming, and access to cloud services. In order to stay competitive within the market, it is recommended that mobile device vendors consider developing devices with 5G connectivity. With the multitude of new components required for implementing 5G technologies, device manufacturers must consider the constrained environment and form factor of mobile devices without risking performance or size. In bringing about eMBB, all new 5G components that need to be added must not come at the expense of device size, form factor, or battery life; otherwise, the UX will be severely affected, notably hampering consumer demand for smartphones. Device vendors need to work closely with a variety of players in the supply chain, particularly component suppliers, to overcome this issue and ensure components are developed to fit device specifications while not impinging on industrial design. Some component suppliers, such as Qualcomm, are even developing integrated systems that combine the required 5G components from modem to antenna to provide a solution that is easier for device vendors to implement and does not take up a large amount of space within the device.

When developing eMBB for a 5G device, companies also need to consider and identify the markets they intend to target and the advantages that the device will offer when set against 4G counterparts that will be significantly cheaper in the short term, such as better signal reliability, improved coverage, and faster connectivity. This will help ensure that the device offers the required features and functionalities for consumers while having seamless connectivity with 5G. Device manufacturers also need to be aware of what the competition is working on to ensure that they are not left behind in terms of device types, new form factors, and technologies being developed that leverage the features of 5G. Continuous innovation in eMBB is vital, ensuring that new 5G devices, technologies, and components are developed to keep the market moving and encourage replacement rates.

 

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