August 7, 2019
Fujikura Ltd. (President: Masahiko Ito, “Fujikura”) today announced they signed an agreement to obtain license to use IBM’s phased-array 5G designs to develop their next generation of millimeter-wave radio frequency integrated circuit (RF-IC) products. Under the Agreement, Fujikura will develop next-generation 28 GHz band RF-IC technology by combining the chip and packaging designs from IBM with Fujikura’s material and antenna expertise. Fujikura plans to accelerate the development of high-performance 5G millimeter-wave wireless communication devices by establishing its own RF-IC product line. Fujikura will provide RF-ICs and RF modules (Fig. 1) to mobile base station and customer premise equipment (CPE) vendors, under the Licensing Agreement on IBM's RF-IC patents.
IBM’s designs have the potential to help Fujikura create prototype systems designed so that mobile base stations can serve more mobile users on the same frequency and offer data speeds that are orders of magnitude faster than today – competitive to existing cable and wired internet access speeds.
5G is a next-generation mobile communication system with new functions such as "massive connections" and "ultra-low latency", in addition to "ultra-high speed", which is an extension of conventional mobile communication system, and is expected to play an increasing role as the key ICT platform in the IoT era. Expected services for 5G include the transmission of high-definition images, the utilization of a large number of sensors, and various applications in the automotive industry.
In order to realize the benefits of 5G, the use of millimeter-wave bands such as 28 GHz band, which help enable high-speed and large-capacity communication, has been allotted for cellular use across the world. In the United States, major mobile communication companies have already launched commercial services using millimeter wave, and in Japan, the government has allocated frequency bands including millimeter wave for 5G, with commercial services planned to launch next year. In the years to come, it is expected that the demand for millimeter-wave RF-ICs and RF modules, which is an important component (Fig. 1) for mobile base stations and CPE will be dramatically expanded. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications document in 5G frequency allocation in Japan (April 2019), the cumulative investment related to 5G base stations in Japan will exceed 1.6 trillion yen by the end of 2024. It is also estimated that the 28GHz mobile base stations will be 100 times or more densely deployed than today.
IBM has been researching and developing millimeter-wave RF-ICs for more than 14 years and has received multiple design awards in this field. Fujikura has been promoting development of optical fiber and flexible printed circuit board and based on the technological advantages for materials and board packaging it has been researching and developing RF circuit design and packaging to realize high-performance millimeter-wave wireless communication devices.