Ericsson unveiled today a new reduced capability RAN software that will enable new 5G use cases and enhance existing ones for an array of devices such as smartwatches, other wearables, and industry sensors by lowering complexity and extending battery life.
Known as Ericsson Reduced Capability (RedCap), the solution will be commercially ready in November 2023 as a software addition to 5G standalone (5G SA) networks powered by Ericsson, with no need for any new hardware. RedCap will strengthen the ecosystem for new types of devices that can be connected to 5G networks.
An expanded New Radio (NR) device ecosystem with new capabilities will in turn spur the growth of even more 5G use cases. Ericsson RedCap will support leaner procedures for optimizing device energy consumption and enable wearables that are currently only available with LTE devices.
David Hammarwall, Head of Product Area Networks, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson Reduced Capability will open up a new world of possibilities for new types of devices that do not require the full range of 5G’s capabilities. The RedCap software will enhance 5G connectivity for everything from consumer wearables to industrial sensors in a way that is both cost- and energy-efficient, unlocking a whole range of new use cases.”
With the new 5G radio access network (RAN) software solution, communications service providers can offer more connectivity options for diverse consumer and enterprise use cases and in industrial settings on the FDD (frequency division duplex) and TDD (time division duplex) spectrums.
Ericsson RedCap will support devices with reduced complexity such as low-end augmented reality (AR) wearables, video surveillance equipment, industrial sensors, and smart grids. The new solution is more energy-efficient than existing LTE low categories and it has already caught the attention of the wearable OEM (original equipment manufacturer) industry.
Bill Stone, Vice President for Technology Planning at Verizon, says: “5G is designed fundamentally as a highly customizable service. The evolution of NR RedCap from Ericsson, coupled with the advanced technologies deployed throughout our 5G network, will serve to bring that customization to life for a variety of devices, allowing us to efficiently allocate network resources while giving customers the best possible experience on our network. We look forward to how this advancement will help evolve the 5G ecosystem.”
Ericsson is closely collaborating with leading chipset vendors to bring multiple types of 5G devices to the market. HC Hwang, General Manager of Wireless Communication Systems & Partnerships at MediaTek, says: “MediaTek’s upcoming solutions supporting 5G RedCap will certainly benefit from Ericsson’s infrastructure readiness, ensuring that operators, consumers and businesses can immediately benefit from the next generation of innovative 5G products and services.”
What is NR RedCap?
New Radio (NR) RedCap is a device category that will help expand the 5G ecosystem, enabling significantly more connections to the 5G network. It does so by bridging the capability and complexity gap between Low-Power Wide-Area (LPWA) and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC) uses in existing 5G settings, with an optimized design for mid-tier use cases.
RedCap can effectively scale down the complexity, size, and capabilities of device platforms to offer cost-efficient integration into devices such as wearables and industrial sensors. Part of a concept that was originally introduced in 3GPP Release 17, RedCap brings a mix of capabilities in throughput, battery life, complexity, and device density needed to cost-effectively power diverse use cases that do not always need the high-performance capability of current 5G technology.