IoT Blog
IoT Blog

Sierra Wireless Overcomes Last Major Technical Hurdle for 5G IoT Solutions with Live 5G mmWave Data Call

From Cellular Wide Area Network (WAN) interface cards, to Smart SIMs, to 2G/3G/4G and Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) embedded modules, Sierra Wireless has been at the forefront in bringing to market solutions using new IoT connectivity technologies for decades. 

The same is true today for the newest IoT connectivity technology set to transform the economy –5G

While 5G has been a dominant topic in the IoT space for some time, the actual rollout of IoT products and applications using 5G is still largely ahead of us. To enable these new products and applications, we have been working to develop and commercialize new modules, routers and other 5G IoT solutions. In fact, we have already passed several milestones on the path towards offering customers a complete set of 5G IoT solutions:

Completing Our First 5G mmWave Data Call

In November 2019, we completed our first 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) data call, using our AirPrime EM9190 module. The 5G mmWave data call was completed at Qualcomm’s protocol lab in San Diego, using test equipment from Keysight. Building on the success of July’s successful Sub-6 5G data transmission, this data call showed that the EM9190 will support mmWave data transmissions, which operate between 20 GHz and 300 GHz. mmWave will enable the deployment of new IoT and other applications that require not only much faster data rates than 4G, but also ultra-high reliability, very low latency, and extremely fast handoffs.

The 5G mmWave New Radio (NR) data call was conducted in Non-Standalone (NSA) mode, using LTE band 5 and 5G NR mmWave band n260. 5G NR’s NSA mode first establishes a 4G LTE connection and then adds additional 5G NR bearer channels for increased throughput. 

5G NR NSA mode does not provide as high a level of performance as a 5G NR Standalone (SA) mode (which does not establish a 4G LTE connection). However, 5G NR NSA mode will be prevalent over the coming years as Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) built out their 5G NR networks to support SA data connectivity. 

Conducting Our First 5G mmWave Data Call over Verizon’s 5G Network

In February 2020, we completed a 5G mmWave data call over Verizon’s public 5G mmWave network, using Verizon’s Ericsson RAN infrastructure and our EM9190 module at Verizon’s testing facility in New Jersey. The 5G NR NSA mode call was made using LTE band 5 and 5G NR mmWave band n260. 

In addition to showing that the EM9190 works on the 5G network of one of the leading MNOs in the world, this successful data transmission sets the stage for Verizon’s future certification of the Sierra Wireless EM9190 module, as well as new IoT products that use this module to connect to Verizon’s 5G mmWave network. 

Partnering with Mobile Network Operators, Certification Bodies and Customers on 5G

In addition to passing these milestones, we are engaged in many other testing, certification, and customer integration activities, keeping us on track to announce commercial availability of new 5G IoT solutions in the third quarter of 2020.  Examples of these activities include:

  • Sierra Wireless has been testing its EM9190 module with MNOs other than Verizon in North America, Asia, and Europe, to ensure it will also work on these MNOs’ 5G networks. For example, testing of the EM9190 module has already started at AT&T AVL, AT&T’s vendor lab. These MNOs indicate there is high demand in for 5G products, with the greatest demand for 5G NR Sub-6 GHz products.
  • A first pass at module testing has also been completed with the Global Certification Forum (GCF) and PTCRB certification bodies. 
  • In addition to testing, Sierra Wireless is actively working with MNOs, infrastructure providers, and Qualcomm to implement DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) in our EM9190 module, to ensure this feature is available with the module’s launch. With DSS, MNOs can dynamically allocate some of their 4G LTE spectrum to 5G, helping them expand their 5G coverage.
  • We have worked with more than 20 launch customers to integrate the EM9190 module into their platforms, and then complete successful modem bring-ups on these platforms. All of these platforms use PCIe as the interface between the modem and the host platform. For 5G mmWave applications in particular, PCIe delivers higher data transmission speeds, more stability, and a more reliable signal than USB.

A Module Designed for a 5G Connected Economy

Designed to connect to networks around the world, the EM9190 is a 5G IoT module that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and other companies can trust to provide them with fast, low-latency, reliable 5G NR Sub-6 Ghz and mmWave performance. 

In addition to supporting 5G NR mmWave in both NSA and SA mode, the Sierra Wireless’s EM9190 module also supports Sub-6 GHz connections in both of these modes. The module is backward compatible with 4G LTE networks, and includes a multi-constellation GNSS receiver, eSIM, and high-speed USB 3.1 and PCIe 3.0 interfaces. 

Sierra Wireless’s 5G leadership goes beyond module performance and functionality. Realizing that 5G will send more data across networks, and bring exponentially more devices online, Sierra Wireless has made security one of the foundations of its 5G strategy. Our strategy includes a multi-pronged approach to defense, with multiple security layers that protect the integrity of our modules and other solutions.

In addition, we work closely with our customers to ensure they are taking full advantage of our security technologies to protect their products from malicious actors. Pulling from our deep experience developing secure IoT solutions, we also help educate our customers on the best practices for securing their 5G and other IoT products.

Your Partner for 5G Success

Having already passed many milestones on the path to bringing our new 5G solutions to market, we are working closely with our technology and MNO partners, as well as our customers, to rapidly complete all the other activities necessary to fully commercialize these new solutions. 

As 5G applications begin rolling out in five successive waves, OEM business decision makers and designers will be able to use the high performance EM9190 module and our other 5G solutions to develop new Enhanced Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC), Mobile Broadband (eMBB), and Ultra-Reliability and Low Latency Communication (URLLC) applications that transform their businesses. We’re focused on enabling our OEM launch customers to be first to market with certified, reliable 5G solutions for IoT markets.

With high-performance 5G IoT solutions you can depend on, and unparalleled IoT connectivity expertise, Start with Sierra if you are considering how to use 5G and the IoT to unlock value in the connected economy.