What you need to know about 5G RedCap, the Technology Poised to Revolutionize HealthTech and the Internet of Things

The Future of IoT with 5G RedCap

The Internet of Things (IoT) transition from being a conceptual buzzword over the past decade to an integral part of our daily routine is truly fascinating. IoT refers to the interconnected network of physical devices, vehicles, appliances, and other items embedded with sensors and software that enable them to exchange data and “talk” to each other over the internet. Today, smart devices surround us – from home security systems to wearables at the gym. This growth is set to further explode with the advancements in 5G technology, particularly the introduction of 5G Reduced Capability, also known as RedCap.

Recently, AT&T accomplished a major industry milestone by executing the first-ever 5G RedCap data call on a live 5G Standalone network. This is a significant step, as RedCap technology is crucial for future IoT expansion. Working in collaboration with Nokia and MediaTek, AT&T’s successful testing of the 5G RedCap places the entire industry on an accelerated path toward enhanced IoT devices in the forthcoming years.

What exactly is 5G RedCap and why is it a game-changer for IoT?

The IoT market is very broad spanning the simplest sensors to high-end routers, each requiring different technologies to meet its demands.

5G RedCap is a subset of the 5G New Radio (NR) technology. It will help reduce the size, cost, and complexity of 5G devices while introducing options that allow devices to use considerably less electricity. With its unique capabilities, RedCap is primed to catalyze the growth of IoT devices that don’t require the full range of standard 5G capabilities.

Advantages of 5G RedCap:

Performance and Efficiency 

5G RedCap is tailored for devices that currently employ LTE CAT-4. It promises similar or even superior performance, boasting a theoretical maximum downlink throughput of up to 150Mbps. It also offers the opportunities for devices to function at significantly reduced power consumption.

Device Diversity

RedCap is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is designed to support specific applications with less stringent data rate requirements and which do not require tight latency. Examples include:

  • Wearables – Smartwatches, AR/VR goggles, wearable medical gadgets, etc.
  • Wireless Sensors – Sensors used in industrial environments.
  • Video Surveillance – Cameras and monitoring systems.
Cost-Effective Design 

RedCap reduces costs by limiting certain features:

  • Bandwidth Reduction: Reduces the required bandwidth for transmission and


  •  Fewer Receive Branches: Reduces the number of receive antennas, saving costs.
  • Limited MIMO Layers: Reduces the maximum number of MIMO layers, simplifying

    the device.

  • Optional Downlink Modulation: It makes support for certain downlink modulations


  • Half-Duplex Operations: Allows half-duplex operations, reducing the need for

    expensive duplex filters.

  • No Carrier Aggregation or Dual Connectivity: RedCap devices operate in a single

    band at a time.

The Connectivity that Powers IoT Devices

NR (New Radio) and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) are wireless communication standards used for transmitting data between mobile devices and network infrastructure.

  • LTE (Long-Term Evolution) Often referred to as 4G LTE, it is a standard for wireless broadband communication. Introduced in the late 2000s, LTE represents the progression from previous mobile communication standards like 2G and 3G. It provides faster data rates and improved connectivity performance compared to its predecessors.
  • NR (New Radio): NR is the next-generation wireless standard after LTE, primarily associated with 5G technology. Introduced as part of the 5G revolution, NR is designed to support a variety of use cases, including enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine-type communications (mMTC). NR offers faster speeds, lower latency, and greater capacity than LTE.

RedCap, sometimes referred to as NR Lite, offers a seamless migration pathway from LTE to NR, particularly for wearables and video surveillance applications. This can expedite the transition from LTE to NR, amplifying both network and device performance. This migration can accelerate spectrum re-farming from LTE to NR and enhance both network and
Device performance. RedCap is great for applications that are not well-served by enhanced mobile broadband
(eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), or low-power wide-area (LPWA)

It’s positioned as a lower segment than Enhanced Mobile Broad Band (eMBB) but higher than Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) devices. Think of a spectrum between high-speed devices like 4K video streamers and VR headsets (eMBB) and energy-efficient, broad-coverage gadgets like smart meters and farm sensors (LPWA).

In Conclusion…

While RedCap might be termed “reduced capability,” 5G RedCap provides enhanced functionality for IoT devices, delivering a superior user experience at reduced costs and increased energy efficiency.

We’re excited about the introduction and adoption of RedCap as transformative steps in the evolution of 5G, opening up new horizons for the IoT ecosystem. As we buckle up for the next phase of IoT, it’s evident that the future is bright, connected, and efficient.



Via: 5G for Internet of Things Gains Ground, Jason Sikes

Alondra Cruz
Alondra Cruz