Does 5G RedCap Empower a More Accessible and Cost-Effective 5G World?

Does 5G RedCap Empower a More Accessible and Cost-Effective 5G World?
Illustration: © IoT For All

Not Your Fashionable Red Hat, But a Clever 5G Shortcut

Have you come across the term “5G RedCap” and wondered what it means? Well, “5G RedCap” actually stands for 5G Reduced Capability, also known as New Radio lite (NR lite). You might wonder why anyone would want to reduce the capabilities of 5G, considering it is an advanced technology that requires extensive development efforts.

Here’s the explanation: While 5G offers significant features, including enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), massiveMachine Type Communications (mMTC), and ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (uRLLC), certain industries are still in the process of adapting to its advancements.

Industries such as healthcare, transportation, and automotive have a relatively higher demand for 5G technology due to a stricter requirement for digital connection, whereas others might have a lower demand.

More importantly, budget is another crucial reason. Hence, the market urgently requires a solution, which is an affordable 5G solution that can be adopted by every industry, driving industry digitalization and enabling all sectors to enjoy the benefits of 5G.

Therefore, to promote future advancements while mitigating the high cost associated with implementing 5G, the adoption of RedCap technology emerges as the optimal solution, taking into account bandwidth, power consumption, price, and other requirements based on the application, whether it falls under enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB). Noticeably, RedCap complies with the 3GPP Rel.17 standard.

Features & Applications

Difference between 5G and 5G RedCap

What is so special about RedCap that we insist on saying it is THE solution? Compared to the 5G module, the RedCap module distinguishes itself through four key features.

Firstly, regarding hardware complexity, the traditional 5G module boasts specifications such as 100MHz,2T4R, 4 x layer, and 256QAM, whereas the RedCap module adopts a simpler design with 20MHz, 1T1R/1T2R, 1/2 x layer, and 64QAM/256QAM.

Consequently, the RedCap module requires fewer antennas, resulting in a more straightforward baseband and RF design and a smaller chip size. These simplifications lead to a more affordable cost and notably lower power consumption. The RedCap module’s support for eDRX, RRM relaxation, and Envelop Tracking further reduces its power consumption.

Moreover, despite the reductions in various critical aspects, the RedCap module retains significant features from the 5G module. For instance, it offers support for Sub-6GHz. To be more precise, the RedCap module enables uplink and downlink speeds of 226 Mbps and 120 Mbps, respectively. Accordingly, RedCap retains the essence of 5G, including 5G slicing and 5G LAN, while ensuring reduced expense.

Additionally, when looking ahead, 3GPP Release 18 is set to encompass additional advancements in 5 G RedCap to complete it by Q1 2024. These developments will involve further simplifications, which are expected to broaden the eRedCap specifications, making it more comparable to LTE Cat 1 capability.

Which Industries Are Expected to Pilot the 5G RedCap Deployment?

Smart Grid

Now, where can the RedCap module show off its superpower? RedCap module encompasses three key application categories: industrial wireless, video surveillance, and intelligent wearables sensors. These applications prioritize stable, seamless data transmission rather than ultra-low latency. RedCap module strikes a balance between enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and technologies, delivering optimal speed, energy efficiency, and cost performance.

One notable application scenario for the RedCap module is the Smart Grid, where it plays a vital role. With the low latency and high reliability of 5G, RedCap meets the safety and control requirements of the Smart Grid and significantly reduces the cost of 5G terminals. This makes it well-suited for applications such as patrol robots, drones, security cameras, and concentrators in power generation, transmission, and consumption scenarios.

FWA (Fixed Wireless Access)

With the growing demand in the mobile broadband market and the development of 5G infrastructure, the manufacturer is seeking 5G adoption in their devices while maintaining high competitiveness on the price. 5G Redcap is the ideal wireless solution for FWA device manufacturers such as mobile hot spot and PC to migrate the 4G to 5G solutions. It offers an optimized 5G network experience and larger bandwidth capacity compared to the 4G solution.

Let’s explore another common scenario where the RedCap module excels: medium-high speed uplink. While RedCap’s uplink speed may be lower than standard 5G, it perfectly meets the uplink requirements for 4K definition video, which cannot be fulfilled by either LTE Cat.4 or Cat.6. As a result, the RedCap module finds extensive use in applications such as IPC (Internet Protocol Camera), UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) inspection, body-worn cameras, and 5G vehicles. In these scenarios, high-quality data uplink is the primary focus.


Industries can’t wait to thrive with 5G RedCap. The emergence of 5G RedCap, also known as New Radio lite (NR lite), has provided an innovative solution to address the varying needs of different industries when adopting 5G technology. While traditional 5G modules offer extensive capabilities, specific sectors require a more affordable and simplified alternative that still delivers essential 5G features.

RedCap also presents a significant commercial opportunity, particularly in the IoT market. Operators have well-defined plans for RedCap network iteration, including extensive projects scheduled in various domestic provinces and cities in China in 2023. RedCap can also be applied to vehicle terminals, industrial sensors, medical monitoring devices, and more. Overall, the future looks promising for RedCap, especially with a freeze of the 3GPP Rel-18 standard.

Fibocom FIbocom Wireless Inc.
Fibocom is a leading global provider of wireless communication modules and solutions as well as the first wireless communication module provider listed on China A-shares stock market (stock code: 300638). Fibocom offers a one-stop solution for ind...
Fibocom is a leading global provider of wireless communication modules and solutions as well as the first wireless communication module provider listed on China A-shares stock market (stock code: 300638). Fibocom offers a one-stop solution for ind...