James -Sales Engineer

We are currently dealing with a fast-progressing inquiry on the 5G RedCap module. I'm keen on grabbing some extra information on 5G RedCap to weave a perfect pitch.

Adam -Senior Product Manager

5G RedCap is a recent addition to the 5G standards. RedCap devices offer a range of capabilities and performance levels, similar to the categorization of LTE devices. RedCap is ideal for mid-range IoT applications like Extended Reality (XR) glasses and health monitors. RedCap applications focus on areas that require more capability than LTE but don't need the full power of high-end 5G applications (5G NR).

James -Sales Engineer

What is 5G NR-Light? Is there any difference between 5G NR-Light and 5G RedCap?

Adam -Senior Product Manager

5G RedCap is also known as 5G NR-Light. It is the official term used for 5G NR-Light in 3GPP Release 17.

James -Sales Engineer

Can 5G Redcap devices replace the existing 4G-powered LTE devices?

Adam -Senior Product Manager

The RedCap devices introduced in Release 17 have peak rates and complexity similar to low-end LTE device categories such as Cat-2, Cat-3, or Cat-4. Telecom operators can leverage their existing network infrastructure (without new hardware deployments) and support RedCap devices with a software upgrade. To know more, read the blog below.


Wireless communication is constantly upgrading itself from its prior technologies and we are even opening doors for new upgrades from this domain. The introduction of 5G and 5G NR has showcased numerous IoT and M2M applications being powered across the connected environment. However, 5G has cost constraints attached that make it less feasible for numerous IoT applications.

To cross this hurdle, 3GPP Release 17 was published with the introduction of 5G RedCap. It puts forward a perfect blend of features that can be attained while staying aligned with factors like power consumption and cost.

Now to engage more on 5G RedCap, let’s deep dive into how 5G ReadCap democratizes the usage of 5G over a wide range of IoT applications.

What is 5G RedCap?

5G RedCap was initially known as 5G NR-Light. Later with the 3GPP Release 17, it was commonly referred to as 5G Reduced Capability or 5G RedCap. 5G RedCap is the derivative of 5G NR that was earlier released in the 3GPP Release 15.

To understand more about 5G NR and how it differs from 5G RedCap, check out our blog on 5G NR.

Bandwidth of 5G RedCap

5G RedCap

5G RedCap is introduced to bridge the gap between 4G and 5G. The minimum 5G requirement earlier was 100 MHz bandwidth and 4 RX antennas. This was not suited for low-cost and battery-involved LPWA IoT applications. 5G RedCap is defined to power low complexity LTE and NR devices with minimum hardware requirement. It functions in the FR2 frequency range of 5G NR making a whole new band of frequencies available for current 4G devices and initiates the migration from 4G to 5G.

Features in 5G RedCap

5G NR reduced capability features
               bridging the gap between 4G LTE and 5G

5G NR reduced capability features bridging the gap between 4G LTE and 5G

5G RedCap Use Cases

Use cases of 5G RedCap

Use cases of 5G RedCap

  • Industrial IoT

    5G RedCap efficiently manages sensors and actuators in factories, machinery, pipelines, and the power grid. These Industrial IoT sensors have medium bandwidth needs and can be powered by minimal power supply sources( like batteries).

  • Video Surveillance

    Video security cameras require an estimated 4Mbps for low-resolution and an average of 25Mbps for high-definition video. RedCap in 5G powers these devices operating on line power with great reliability.

  • Smart Wearables

    5G RedCap devices are used in wearable technology like smartwatches, fitness trackers, location tracking, smart clothes, health sensors, and AR/VR headsets.

  • 5G RedCap Use Cases and Specifications

    Use Case Device Type / Application Latency Reliability Battery Life
    Industrial Wireless Sensors Midi-tier Sensors: Temperature, Pressure, motion, humidity, proximity <100 ms Safety applications: 5 ms to 10 ms 99.99% ~ 2 years
    Video Surveillance Smart Cities, Agriculture, Factories, Retail, Commercial <500 ms 99% - 99.9% NA
    Wearable Technology Smartwatches, health monitors, AR/VR Headsets NA NA Multiple days up to 1-2 weeks

    What is 5G eRedCap?

    5G Enhanced RedCap (5G eRedCap) is the ongoing development to be released in 3GPP Release 18. It is believed to reduce the data bandwidth to 5MHz, lowering peak throughput to LTE Cat-1 levels or below. Within 5G standalone deployment, 5G native Redcap and eRedCap provide a migration path for use cases now handled by LTE Cat 1 to LTE Cat 4. The 5G eRedCap is planned for a 2024 introduction, with commercial availability likely by 2026. Bringing innovations to the IoT segment, 5G eRedCap modules are projected to contribute 8% to the total cellular IoT module shipments by 2030.

    Comparison of 5G, 5G RedCap, and 5G eRedCap

    Specification 5G 5G RedCap 5G eRedCap
    Launch/ Expected Launch 2019 2023 2024
    Bandwidth 100 MHz 20 MHz 5 MHz
    Peak Rate 2 Gbps 100 Mbps 10 Mbps
    Device Complexity High Medium Low
    Battery Life Medium Medium Long

    Closing Notes

    5G RedCap embarks on a revolutionary journey for mid-tier IoT solutions that fall between the mMTC, eMBB, and URLCC domains that earlier 5G Releases defined. 5G RedCap represents a breakthrough in wireless communication - supporting high bandwidth and reliable low latency connectivity. It also accelerates automation and data-driven decision-making across industries. With strong industry momentum, 5G RedCap is poised to go mainstream within the next few years, transforming the connected ecosystem.

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    Amusing Tech Chronicles

    Facts and Anecdotes Related to this Edition of Wireless By Design

    Marathon Runner

    The Marathon Runner

    Imagine 5G as a sprinter, designed for short bursts of high speed. In contrast, 5G RedCap is like a marathon runner - not as fast, but optimized for endurance and efficiency, making it ideal for devices that need long-term, consistent connectivity without the need for lightning-fast speeds.

    Crossover SUV

    The Trusty Crossover SUV

    In the automotive world, 5G RedCap is like a crossover SUV. It combines the best of both worlds: it's not as large as a full-size SUV (high-end 5G) or as small as a compact car (older network technologies). It offers a balance of efficiency, space, and performance, suitable for a wide range of everyday activities.


    The Urban Bike-Sharing System

    5G RedCap is similar to an urban bike-sharing system. It's not the fastest mode of transport (like high-speed 5G networks), but it's accessible, easy to use, and affordable for short, everyday trips (moderate data usage tasks).

    Go Beyond and Explore

    Speeds, latency, and spectrum for 5G RedCap are comparable to current LTE capabilities. The LTE Cat-4 data rate is 50 Mbps in the uplink and up to 150 Mbps in the downstream. With speeds ranging from 10 to 100 Mbps, 5G RedCap is viewed as the 5G heir to LTE Cat-4.

    In the Global cellular IoT module Forecast of Counterpoint Research Report, 5G RedCap modules are forecasted to constitute 18% of the total IoT module shipments by 2030. Though 5G RedCap modules are available, their widespread commercial usage is forecasted to increase in 2024.

    Specification LTE Cat-1bis LTE Cat-4 5G NR-Light (Rel-17)
    Bandwidth 20 MHz 20 MHz 20 MHz (sub-7 GHz)
    DL/UL peak data rate 10/5 Mbps 150/50 Mbps 150/50 Mbps or higher
    Tx/Rx chain 1 Tx, 1 Rx 1 Tx, 2 Rx 1 or 2 Tx, 1 or 2 Rx
    DL/UL MIMO layer 1/1 2/1 1 or 2/1
    Maximum coupling loss 140 dB 144 dB 140 dB

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