Qualcomm 5G Summit Highlights Infrastructure And Robotics Momentum

By Patrick Moorhead - May 17, 2022

Qualcomm held its annual 5G Summit in San Diego from May 9th through the 11th. The month of May has proven to be remarkably busy from an event perspective, as many companies return to in-person events post-pandemic. Consequently, I had to juggle four other events during the same week of Summit—stay tuned for coverage of those in the coming weeks. Today, though, I would like to highlight a podcast that my colleague, Anshel Sag, and I conducted before the Qualcomm event and provide my key takeaways related to 5G Summit.  

G2 on 5G podcast    

Before the event, Sag and I had the opportunity to spend time not only with Qualcomm but also with Hewlett Packard Enterprise, AT&T and Vodafone. The culmination of our discussions came together in a very compelling podcast in the Moor Insights & Strategy “G2 on 5G Standalone Edition” series. Mr. Sag and I launched the podcast nearly two years ago, and we are fast approaching our 100th episode. You can follow the series on Twitter here.  

Qualcomm is undeniably at the center of the 5G ecosystem and maintains its leadership position in device enablement. However, the company is also quickly ramping its infrastructure solutions, with a strong focus on open and virtualized RAN, small cells with a well-established offering, macro network RU and DU platforms, as well as its accelerator card efforts. I wrote about the latter before Mobile World Congress Barcelona, and which you can read here. In the Qualcomm-sponsored podcast episode, Mr. Sag and I discuss the disruptive potential of Open RAN and vRAN and how Qualcomm is enabling these ecosystems. It is worth viewing or listening to as we feature executives from infrastructure providers and mobile network operators. You can find the episode here.

5G Summit announcements and insights   

I found two announcements particularly compelling at Qualcomm 5G Summit this year, given my networking infrastructure coverage area. First, Viettel Group and Qualcomm announced plans to collaborate on a next-generation 5G radio unit (RU) that incorporates massive MIMO and distributed units (DUs) for deployment in Vietnam. The recently announced Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and Massive MIMO QRU100 5G RAN Platform will be married with Viettel’s High Technology hardware and software systems to accelerate an Open RAN solution for the enablement of Vietnam's domestic 5G infrastructure. Southeast Asia has long depended on Chinese cellular infrastructure for its attractive capital expense structure, so this initiative is strategic on many fronts. From my perspective, it should serve as a benchmark for other countries in the region that wish to leverage the agility and cost structure that Open RAN promises to deliver. Qualcomm's X100 accelerator card is also helping to close the gap concerning Open RAN performance. 

The second announcement centers on Qualcomm's desire to advance autonomous robotics. I believe that over half of the addressable market for private 5G services will be in manufacturing automation. As such, this is likely an intelligent move on Qualcomm's part. Qualcomm Robotics RB6 Platform and its RB5 AMR Reference Design aim to bring AI and 5G together to enable next-generation robotics in manufacturing and delivery service robots and drones as well as intelligent machines that span manufacturing, urban air mobility aircraft and autonomous defense solutions. On the surface, it is a bold initiative but has the potential to speed 5G innovation and disruption.

Wrapping up

Qualcomm continues to fire on all 5G cylinders. For proof, look no further than its recent second-quarter earnings, which showed record revenue and high double-digit growth across all its core business units. Equally impressive is the company's depth in consumer and enterprise markets, given its closest competitor is almost exclusively consumer-focused. Qualcomm's enablement of 5G at both the device level and infrastructure, including automotive and smart city use cases, is also compelling. I look forward to what the company has in store in the coming quarters as operators move deployments to 5G Standalone and unlock the true potential of 5G.  

Disclosure: My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, including AT&T, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Qualcomm, cited or related to this article. I do not hold any equity positions with any companies cited in this column.

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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.