Qualcomm’s Principal Systems Engineer: ‘Power efficiency is necessary for 5G mobile technologies’
Power efficiency will prove vital in a 5G world as more applications and use cases are enabled by this advanced technology, increasing data rates and, subsequently, increasing power consumption. Qualcomm’s Principal Systems Engineer Dr. Lola Awoniyi-Oteri spoke with RCR Wireless News about how to develop 5G technologies with power efficiency in mind, as well as how to prepare such products for the ever-evolving standards of the mobile industry.
Q: What is your role at Qualcomm?
Awoniyi-Oteri: I am a Principal Systems Engineer within the Qualcomm Research organization, and the focus of my research is on improving connectivity performance, enhancing the mobile user experience, enabling network mobility support and reducing network and device power consumption. That research spans multiple Wide Area Network technologies, such as Cellular and Satellite networks and a myriad of wireless Local Area Network technologies, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networks. In my current role, I’m also involved in the standardization, research and development of 5G millimeter (mmWave) devices.
Q: Why is power efficiency so important in a 5G era? Is it more critical than in previous generations of cellular technology?
Awoniyi-Oteri: Power efficiency is not only important but necessary as we make further advancements in cellular technologies such as 5G and beyond. As we add more features and applications to our mobile devices, we are increasingly processing more data, which leads to an increase in power consumption.
If we don’t continue to improve device power efficiency, our phone batteries would drain within just a few hours. Therefore, power efficiency is necessary in ensuring your mobile device has a daily battery life of 10+ hours. In addition, improvements in power efficiency on our mobile devices also help us decrease global energy emissions. The more power our devices require, the more energy we will need to consume and emit, so we need to continue improving power efficiency.
Q: How do you invent 5G technologies that prioritize power efficiency?
Awoniyi-Oteri: Our technologies are designed to transmit data at a high data rate, which means your small file arrives in the blink of an eye, or your big file takes seconds rather than minutes, reducing the time your 5G radio spends receiving or transmitting. We also develop technologies that enable devices to intelligently detect how much or how little power is really needed during communication and make the necessary adjustments to preserve power instead of wasting it.
We are perpetually addressing this issue throughout the design process by considering end-to-end power consumption at every step to not only enable current use cases, but also hypothesize and prepare for potential needs for the future.
Q: How will Integrated Access Backhaul (IAB) address some of the challenges of mmWave?
Awoniyi-Oteri: One of the key challenges for expanding 5G mmWave network coverage is deployment cost, as deployments are expected to be much denser due to mmWave’s propagation properties. To put it simply, more cell towers are needed for mmWave to provide fully expanded outdoor and indoor coverage. There are certain ways to mitigate this challenge such as LTE co-siting, which re-uses existing LTE sites to deploy mmWave, and therefore, cutting down on overall deployment cost.
To address this challenge, Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB) was introduced in 3GPP Release 16. IAB enables a 5G gNodeB base station to be used for both the access and backhaul. A single tower can have a wired connection to the network core and share it wirelessly with multiple other towers, ultimately reducing costly fiber installation at new base stations.
The freedom to wirelessly connect towers in a wide area network will be tremendously helpful especially for providing internet access in areas that may have electricity, but can’t easily be drilled or re-configured for fiber, a common issue in rural areas and places with rock rather than soil foundations.
While this wouldn’t have made sense in the 4G era with sub-1 Gbps cellular wireless connections, 5G mmWave supports ultra-wide bandwidth channels that can deliver 10 Gbps today and soon 20 Gbps, enough to rival fiber-based backhaul.
Q: When it comes to mobile technology development, how do you prepare for the ever-evolving standards in the mobile industry?
Awoniyi-Oteri: Qualcomm always takes the long view when developing mobile technologies, investing in game-changing innovations that may take 10 years to bear fruit. As a leader in this industry, we’re active in helping set the standards for the mobile industry — we research and propose new ideas into many standards organizations. Within those organizations, we cooperate and work towards consensus with a vast number of industry partners across the globe to ensure that the best innovations reach the maximum potential consumer base, creating the largest positive social changes.
We also actively support our partners in the commercialization of these innovations, as we did by advancing 5G deployment forward by a year, kicking off the age of Gigabit wireless connectivity, and making possible amazing advancements in distributed computing — also known as the Connected Intelligent Edge. Our goal is to enable a world where everyone and everything is intelligently connected.
To learn more about Dr. Lola Awoniyi-Oteri’s 5G inventions, read the Qualcomm blog, found here.