Qualcomm's new 2Gbps LTE modem is an important step toward 5G

Qualcomm's new 2Gbps LTE modem is an important step toward 5G

Qualcomm's new 2Gbps LTE modem is an important step toward 5G

"Qualcomm Technologies is deeply committed to helping our customers deliver next-generation 5G mobile experiences to consumers, which requires enhanced mobile broadband 5G NR connectivity enabled by 5G NR networks, mobile devices and the Snapdragon X50 5G modem", said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

The fastest available LTE modems, like Qualcomm's Snapdragon X20, are capable of reaching [theoretical] top speeds of 1.2Gbps.

The Snapdragon X24 LTE might not sound like anything to get the tech glands all fizzy, but it claims to be the "world's most advanced 4G chip" able to deliver frankly ridiculous 2Gbps download speeds.

Before we get there, though, we need to continue on the current path, which means maxing out the potential of 4G LTE and making all networks and all phones more efficient.

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We likely won't see the fruits of this achievement until well into 2019, which puts the X24's debut on the cusp of the X50's, Qualcomm's first 5G NR modem. "While failure to do so will leave some OEMs trailing the market, this could create a marked slowdown in the smartphone replacement cycle as users endure a lengthy delay for model upgrades with X24, or else they hold-fire altogether and await the advent of 5G". In the initial days of 5G networks, coverage will be quite limited, so it seems like Qualcomm is taking the advance move.

At its 5G Day event in San Diego last week, Qualcomm also demonstrated a trio of trials, showcasing technologies like spectrum sharing and "ultra reliable low latency communication (URLLC)". And while most of us have marveled at the 10nm manufacturing process that is used for today's flagship smartphones, the Snapdragon X24 is built on a new 7nm FinFET process.

As Qualcomm reportedly prepares for a high-stakes meeting with hostile suitor Broadcom, the leading maker of smartphone modems is predicting 2 Gbps download speeds for smartphones this year. So, it is possible that X24 LTE based mobile devices will launch only in 2019.

The Snapdragon X24 supports up to seven carrier aggregation (topping things like Samsung's latest Exynos chipsets, which supported six carrier aggregation) and 4x4 MIMO antenna arrays on up to five aggregated LTE carriers, which allow for a theoretical maximum of 20 concurrent LTE streams. "At the same time, operators can gain flexibility in using their spectrum assets to offer blazing fast speeds to consumers, while also improving their network capacity and maximising spectral efficiency", said Qualcomm in its blog post. There is also full-dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO) to give way to carriers to start sending their 5G signals. In the uplink, the Snapdragon X24 LTE supports Category 20 upload speeds with 3×20 MHz CA and up to 256-QAM.

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