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What is 5G RedCap?

We explain why and when you should choose 5G RedCap

Until now, the hype around 5G has been about its high speed and low latency, but the real deal is that 5G is a new and expensive technology that is out of reach for many IoT use cases, even where coverage is available. 5G reduced capacity (RedCap) could present an answer to this problem by delivering some of the speeds and low latency of full 5G at a fraction of its cost. 5G RedCap delivers throughput of 150Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink which, although a shadow of 5G’s gigabits of capacity, is still substantially more powerful than narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) and Cat M1.

With the first 5G RedCap chipsets becoming available later this year and into 2024, and commercial RedCap devices set to first arrive in 2025 and 2026, there is time to prepare for RedCap. The industry foresees growth of commercial RedCap devices accelerating as industries and consumers adopt RedCap-enabled wearables for health monitoring and other applications, as well as low-cost wireless sensors for industrial data collection and asset-tracking.

Research house Transforma Insights has reported that RedCap may enable a price reduction of perhaps 80% in comparison to standard 5G while also reducing power consumption. They say that to fill a useful niche, RedCap needs to be capable of running off a battery that saves 90% more power than conventional 5G networks. RedCap can achieve this and also comfortably maintain data speeds of at least those of LTE Cat 1, making it desirable for IoT devices with reduced capabilities to connect to the internet via 5G.

Choose 5G RedCap for low power use cases which need low latency or moderate data speeds

5G RedCap is therefore expected to address applications that involve simpler and lower-cost IoT devices such as sensors and actuators that send small packets of information continuously and require a long battery life. Such applications do not fit neatly into any initial use cases defined by the 5G NR standard. 3GPP Release 17 specifies RedCap use cases including industrial wireless sensors and health wearables.

Greater understanding of the possible use cases of RedCap is required and these were detailed in a recent Quectel Masterclass titled 5G RedCap: Innovation and Opportunities. The Masterclass, presented by Quectel’s Nathan Sun, revealed RedCap’s ability to significantly increase 5G’s capability to support IoT solutions that rely on advanced features of 5G other than purely high speed. Ideal for applications that require high reliability and speeds typically between ultra eMBB and LPWA, RedCap will enable deployment of billions of new IoT devices and services.

Understanding this new form of connectivity – and crucially, the best way to use it with your IoT devices – is essential for many companies looking to make advanced IoT deployments. In this Masterclass, Quectel’s experts detail how to make the most of 5G RedCap, and how Quectel’s portfolio of products can help. To access the Masterclass, visit: https://www.quectel.com/masterclass-library/redcap-5g