Vodafone, Qualcomm, Xiaomi claim European first for enhanced 5G uplink

Test by leading European mobile operator, mobile platform provider and handset manufacturer said to result in mobile customers being able to receive faster 5G upload speeds

Vodafone, Xiaomi, and Qualcomm Technologies have declared they have successfully tested a 5G technology that will pave the way for customers to get faster upload speeds and wider coverage with the arrival of new smartphones and devices expected during 2024.

The test combined Vodafone’s 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks in both Germany and Spain with the latest silicon technology from Qualcomm – the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform – and the next flagship Xiaomi smartphone.

It took place in the Spanish city of Ciudad Real, using Vodafone’s live Create (Ciudad Real España Advanced Testing Environment) multi-supplier testing 5G network and Vodafone’s commercial 5G SA network in Hannover, Germany.

The uplink boost also trialled 5G innovation from Vodafone, including successful tests of 6GHz spectrum for boosting capacity in the future, as well as new software ideally suited to low-powered devices such as smart watches, credit card readers and portable routers that don’t drain battery life.

The three companies noted that better uplink capabilities will enable customers to upload their photos, videos and files to social media sites and the cloud at almost double the speed possible today when next-generation devices arrive later this year. They said this would be important in meeting the growing demand for cloud storage, video streaming, augmented and virtual reality applications, and multi-player gaming.

In the test, Vodafone, Qualcomm and Xiaomi achieved peak upload speeds of up to 273 Mbps, with the companies noting that most of the currently available smartphones and home broadband services are capable of an average upload speed of 100 Mbps. They added that the enhanced 5G technology raises upload speeds closer to download levels while also extending coverage and increasing capacity.

Vodafone said the breakthrough was made possible using the advanced capabilities of 5G SA. Specifically, the ability to enhance the uplink performance using the Uplink Carrier Aggregation with a Tx Switching technique that combines multiple transmission channels supported by the smartphone and mobile antenna.

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Using Uplink Carrier Aggregation with Tx Switching, together with a commercial device, Vodafone and its technology suppliers believe they have found more optimised ways of transmitting information. This boosted speed by 35% to 54% depending on the distance between the smartphone and mobile site.

Vodafone has launched 5G SA commercially in Germany and the UK, while also running pilots in other markets, and will progressively update sites to support Uplink Carrier Aggregation with Tx Switching as new devices become available.

“We want our customers to be among the first anywhere in the world to benefit from this new 5G feature when it becomes available,” said Vodafone chief network officer Alberto Ripepi. “That’s why we are working with key partners to lead the industry in pulling together and testing the necessary network, silicon chips and devices to turn it into a reality, all while driving a stronger vendor and developer ecosystem.”

Andi Zhang, deputy general manager of product and technology at Xiaomi, said: “The successful pilot test of UL Tx switching highlights the added value that maximises resource utilisation with respect to user equipment’s capability and further enhances the uplink performance. We are committed to working with key partners in innovating in 5G and access technologies to enhance the customer experience and stay ahead.”

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