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Vendors Set to Test 5G NR Wireless Network Technology

Qualcomm, Ericsson, and AT&T plan to test the interoperability and speed of the potential future 5G wireless network standard.

Qualcomm, Ericsson, and AT&T announced plans to collaborate and conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials based on the expected 5G New Radio (NR) specifications underdevelopment by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

5G to improve remote patient care

The advances in wireless technology bring speed and reliability to enterprise organizations seeking new revenue streams requiring mobile or remote data exchanges, such as telehealth and remote care.

The 3GPP provides their organization partners with an environment to produce and test new telecommunication network standards which will form the basis of the global standard. The organization aims to help move the global mobile ecosystem from 4G LTE to a faster 5G deployment based on standards-compliant 5G NR infrastructure.  

Qualcomm, Ericsson, and AT&T will test accelerated commercial deployments in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. The companies will demonstrate the new 5G millimeter Wave (mmWave) technologies to increase network capacity by utilizing high frequency bands.

"The roadmap of 5G technologies is  complex, and collaborations such as this are critical to ensuring timely deployment of 5G networks," said Matt Grob, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "The 3GPP-based trials we are planning with AT&T and Ericsson will help us accelerate integration of advanced 5G New Radio technologies in form-factor accurate devices, building upon our long history of 3G and 4G LTE leadership and paving the path to wide-scale 5G deployments."

While the trials are not expected to take place until the latter half of 2017, they are expected to yield valuable insight into integrating the technology into current mobile networks and devices.

"5G is the greatest opportunity our industry has ever experienced. It will provide a platform for operators to address new markets, such as media, transportation, and manufacturing," said Ulf Ewaldsson, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson.

"This important 5G standard-based trial collaboration,” he continued, “will demonstrate compliance to 3GPP and support the accelerated commercialization of the global 3GPP 5G standard. Ericsson continuously works with leading operators and ecosystem players in 5G to enable global scale and drive the industry in one common direction."

5G technology potentially has a significant part to play in health IT infrastructure with telehealth and remote care delivery. Currently, healthcare organizations are looking for secure ways to reliably connect their remote clinicians to their data centers using 4G.  

Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri uses Cradlepoint technology to provide their remote clinicians with secure access to their data center from patient homes using 4G.

“Cradlepoint is providing very high speed and reliable connectivity though 4G in a very secure way using a VPN to bring the information back to the data center in a way that is HIPAA compliant," said Ken Hosac, Vice President of Business Development at Cradlepoint. “They can do everything they need to do over that high speed internet connection without having to rely on wires. Some early attempts tried to use patient in-home networks but it doesn’t work reliably because there is a different environment in every home.”

Children’s Mercy is successfully providing remote care to patients using 4G and with the future introduction of 5G, the remote connections will be faster and allow for higher quality audio/video streams and increased rates of data exchange between the remote location and the data center.

Children’s Mercy are also currently testing the 4G Cradlepoint technology in their fleet of ambulances, confident that the technology will be successful in retrieving files from the data center in-transit.

“The connectivity we’ve been getting in the ambulances since we started testing with Cradlepoint has been a huge plus and I think that’s really going to be the biggest difference maker for us,” said John Baker, Senior Analyst of Telemedicine and Video Conferencing at Children’s Mercy.

The prospect of 5G technology for remote and mobile healthcare infrastructure deployments could potentially provide EMTs and remote clinicians similar speed and connectivity as if they were accessing the data center from a location within the physical organization.

The trials are set to begin in late 2017 and will track the first 3GPP 5G NR specification closely. The trials were determine the interoperability of the 5G standard and if it can be deployed on established networks and mobile devices.

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