Qualcomm’s Latest 5G Modem Aims to Optimize IIoT and Automation

May 21, 2021 by Alessandro Mascellino

Qualcomm Technologies has announced its first modem solution equipped with 5G connectivity and designed for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications.

Dubbed 315 5G IoT, the new solution is a modem-to-antenna device intended to accelerate the adoption of 5G connectivity in industrial automation scenarios.


Qualcomm 315 5G IoT modem

Qualcomm 315 5G IoT modem. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm


Qualcomm's new modem will be commercially available in the second half of 2021.


Qualcomm 315 5G IoT Modem

The Qualcomm 315 5G IoT modem was designed and built with industrial and enterprise applications in mind. Because of this, the device features high gigabit-class performance, low power consumption, and thermal-efficient capabilities.

To facilitate the transition of current LTE legacy modules to 5G, the Qualcomm 315 5G IoT Modem is also a pin-to-pin compatible solution supporting global 5G NR sub-6GHz bands and operating in either stand-alone (SA) or LTE modes. This means legacy modules can be upgraded using the new modem with no changes required to existing hardware, minimizing development efforts and costs.

From a security perspective, the new modem offers solid, hardware-based security foundations. Specifically, the device is compatible with Qualcomm Trusted Execution Environment (TEE), which isolates secure and non-secure software operations. It also integrates WAN security and transport layer security (TLS) to protect data in transit and offers secure boot to deter unauthorized code execution.


Designed for IIoT

According to Vieri Vanghi, vice president, product management of Qualcomm, the new modem represents the natural next step of connectivity in industrial automation applications.

"If you deploy an industrial product and you want to connect that industrial robot wirelessly to be controlled remotely, you cannot do it reliably over a public network, you have to have a dedicated network,” Vanghi told Control Automation.

In practical terms, the executive explained, that would translate to either a standalone network deployed in the company's factory floor or a slice of the public network that the mobile network operator explicitly dedicated to that enterprise customer in the given location.


Automating agriculture is one of the possible scenarios where 5G can be deployed. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm


The Qualcomm 315 5G IoT modem is designed to facilitate the deployment of such networks, since it works both over private or public 5G networks, leveraging network slicing or in isolation. 

It is designed to be optimal for IoT applications requiring existing ethernet and wired technologies, particularly in energy, automation and manufacturing, precision agricultural, construction, mining, public venues, and more. 


Enabling 5G Applications in Industrial Facilities

From a customer service perspective, Qualcomm confirmed the new 315 5G IoT modem will come with extended software and hardware maintenance and support, designed to prolong the device’s life span. It will also have to be installed within existing systems by specialized engineers.


Automating manufacturing can be facilitated by the deployment of 5G infrastructures. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm


Moving forward, Vanghi said there are several challenges companies will have to overcome to achieve a fully functioning smart factory or flexible manufacturing facility.

“Before one can replace wires in the factory used to control robots, there is a massive amount of work that needs to happen in terms of interoperability, testing, implementing protocols and technologies deployed in the factory," Vanghi said. "Cutting the wires to machines is a fundamental first step towards the reconfigurable factory, the fully wireless factory. It would take years."

Qualcomm said several module manufacturers have already expressed interest in the new modem, including Fibocom, MeiG, Quectel, and Telit. In addition, industry giants such as Bosch, Schneider Electric, HMS, and Siemens confirmed they will collaborate in supporting future applications of the 315 5G IoT ModemRF.