RedCap: Expanding the 5G Device Ecosystem for Consumers and Industries

Since the number of personal smartphone subscriptions is limited by the size of the human population, the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is predicted to have a stronger growth than smartphone subscriptions in the coming years. The IoT segment served by cellular networks can be divided into Massive IoT, Broadband IoT, Critical IoT, and Industrial Automation IoT, where Broadband IoT is forecasted to constitute 60 percent of the cellular IoT connections by the end of 2028. Broadband IoT includes both wide-area and local-area use cases that require higher throughput, lower latency, and larger data volumes than what Massive IoT technologies can support. These use cases include,for example, smart wearables and industrial sensors.

In the past, Broadband IoT use cases were often served by 4G long-term evolution (LTE) device categories 1 and 4. The device complexity, and hence the device cost, has so far been too high for 5G New Radio (NR) to be suited to Broadband IoT, which motivated the introduction of reduced capability (RedCap) 5G NR devices in 3GPP Release 17.

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