What is 5G Dual Connectivity?

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Editorial Team - everything RF

May 1, 2021

5G NR Dual Connectivity (DC) is a feature that allows mobile devices to utilize both mid-band and mmWave frequencies (LTE and FR2) to provide improved network coverage and data rate. This is done by implementing carrier aggregation which allows mobile operators to combine two or more carriers into a single data channel to increase the capacity of the network and the data rates.

5G Dual connectivity using mmWave and sub-6 GHz frequencies is critical to delivering multi-Gigabit speeds and the massive capacity required for a new generation of consumer and enterprise applications. Combining different types of radio spectrum will enable mobile 5G devices to wirelessly achieve wired broadband-class speeds, even in challenging conditions such as crowded venues and transit hubs, in addition to powering robust 5G fixed wireless access services in homes and small businesses.

5G NR DC allows operators to provide improved performance on their Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G networks. Non-standalone 5G networks rely on an LTE core and radio access network with the addition of a 5G carrier. NR DC combines the higher coverage area of LTE mid-band frequencies and the higher data rate of 5G mmWave frequencies.

Dean Brenner, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of spectrum strategy and technology policy, stated in an interview “The aggregate data rate that the phone can achieve is the sum of the 4G speed plus the 5G speed”.

NR DC supports high-performance, latency-sensitive applications for consumers and enterprises and will also help pave the way for new innovative use cases for mobile broadband and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), such as gaming and immersive media. It will be a very appealing option for telecom operators for their 5G deployment strategies because it increases coverage area while simultaneously delivering high data rates.

In a trial conducted by Ericsson and MediaTek, they aggregated 800 MHz of high-band spectrum and 60 MHz of mid-band spectrum to reach speeds of up to 5.1 Gbps on an individual user device. In a separate trial conducted by Qualcomm, they completed 5G data calls using 5G mmWave and Sub-6 GHz aggregation.