What is Reduced Capability in 5G NR and why do we need it?

The main focus of 5G Release 15 and Release 16 was to improve the data throughput and enhance enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) devices. Smartphones today have enough battery and RF antenna capability along with modem processing power to support higher throughput numbers, which yields to higher data throughput in upwards of 5 GBps. However, devices that do not need high throughput and need to operate with lower batteries also need to be accommodated in a 5G network.

This is where reduced capability (RedCap) in 5G NR comes in. RedCap is a new device class that is designed to provide a cost-effective way to connect devices that do not require the full capabilities of 5G. It is targeted at mid-tier use cases, such as wearables, industrial sensors, and smart meters.

RedCap devices support a maximum downlink throughput of 150 Mbps and a maximum uplink throughput of 50 Mbps. They also support a maximum bandwidth of 20 MHz. This is significantly lower than the capabilities of 5G eMBB devices, but it is still sufficient for many use cases.

RedCap devices are also designed to be more power efficient than eMBB devices. This is important for devices that are battery-powered, such as wearables and sensors.

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