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RedCap 5G NR expands Broadband IoT possibilities

RedCap 5G NR expands Broadband IoT possibilities

RedCap outlook

RedCap expected on the market during 2024

Key findings
  • Broadband IoT use cases are primarily served by 4G LTE device categories 1 and 4, but the use case possibilities are expanding with the introduction of reduced capability (RedCap) 5G New Radio (NR) devices.
  • RedCap enables a wide range of cost-effective and power-efficient use cases.
  • Commercially available RedCap devices are expected during 2024.

RedCap opens new service opportunities

Cellular IoT connections are forecast to have a CAGR of 12 percent through to 2029, with the number of Broadband IoT and Critical IoT (4G/5G) connections expected to double in 3–4 years. However, our current cellular IoT forecast does not yet include RedCap connections, which will enable new service opportunities on 5G networks. Compared to LTE device Cat-4, RedCap offers similar data rates with improved latency, plus device energy and spectrum efficiencies. There is also the potential to support 5G NR features such as enhanced positioning and network slicing.

RedCap software for both time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD), in low- and mid-frequency bands, is now commercially available as a software addition to 5G standalone (SA) networks. The first pre-commercial RedCap-based modules will soon be available, and commercially available devices are expected during 2024. This device category will expand the ecosystem for new types of devices that can be connected to 5G networks. These have a lower cost and complexity than regular 5G NR devices, as well as a smaller form factor.

Leading service providers in frontrunner markets such as the US, China, Australia and some Asian markets conducted trials with both data and Voice over New Radio (VoNR) sessions over 5G SA networks to test the technology on pre-commercial software during 2023.

Figure 17: Use cases addressed by RedCap devices

  • Cameras
  • Smart grids
  • Smart grids
  • Wearables
  • Industrial sensors
  • Health monitoring

RedCap enables a wide range of cost-effective and power-efficient use cases, such as wearables (for example smartwatches), IoT devices and AR glasses. It is expected to be introduced on low-cost routers, cameras, high-end meters and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) devices before it advances into the wearable and industrial application segments. New types of service offerings can be created, such as device-based subscriptions or service bundles for different market segments.

Comparing the peak data-rate capabilities of 4G and 5G device types shows that, at the high end of both technologies, there are device types offering high peak rates for demanding use cases. Between the low and high end, there is a range of 4G devices available (Cat-1/2/3/4) and RedCap will provide corresponding 5G device types for this mid-range segment. Achievable downlink and uplink peak data rates for RedCap devices depend on the complexity and frequency band. It ranges from 50/35 Mbps in the downlink/uplink to 240/175 Mbps for the simplest devices, and from 130/45 Mbps to 645/235 Mbps for the most advanced devices.

Peak data rates for RedCap devices

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