Qualcomm has a 5G modem that works in an precise cellphone.

Again at Cell World Congress in February, I walked by means of Qualcomm’s sprawling present flooring exhibit and was struck by the emphasis being paid to a expertise that, a minimum of on the time, had little type or concrete narrative.

5G is a time period thrown round to indicate the following era of wi-fi expertise, combining the advantages of at this time’s high-speed 4G LTE with one thing quicker, extra ubiquitous, and considerably cheaper. Whereas it will not be accessible to the general public till, on the earliest, 2019, firms like Qualcomm are already getting ready for the shift.

Nearly precisely a yr in the past, the corporate introduced its first 5G modem, dubbed X50. It was a prototype product, utilizing an unfinished specification of an unproven wi-fi expertise, but it surely was, within the firm’s opinion, an vital first step in direction of proving 5G was a factor. On the time, the modem was briefcase-sized, and was proven off in a glass show.

In the present day, the corporate has introduced that very same product, the X50 modem, has not solely been shrunk all the way down to phone-appropriate dimensions, but it surely’s working inside Qualcomm’s first 5G reference smartphone.

Utilizing the 5G chip, Qualcomm was in a position to obtain gigabit speeds utilizing “a number of 100MHz 5G carriers” — carriers being the air channels over which the knowledge flows, not the wi-fi carriers you pay each month for service — within the 28GHz millimeter wave spectrum. Such excessive frequencies have monumental capability benefits to the sub-3GHz ones we use for LTE at this time, however can solely journey fractions of the identical distance, and require huge localized antennas to push the sign. It is also actually arduous for a cellphone — with such small antennas — to ship and obtain indicators at these excessive frequencies.

When 5G networks launch in 2019, Qualcomm envisions its X50 chip facet the Android telephones that lead the transition. It additionally expects the expertise to co-exist with 4G LTE for numerous years, simply as we nonetheless use 3G indicators for fallback at this time when LTE is not accessible. However Qualcomm consultant Sherif Hanna says that within the early days of 5G, the expertise will act as a form of “turbo mode” for present 4G, working facet by facet so as to add capability to present networks.

Finally, although, 5G is predicted to supply speeds ten occasions what we will presently obtain with the now-mature LTE commonplace, and Qualcomm envisions a time within the U.S. the place wi-fi bandwidth is so plentiful that limitless plans shall be actually limitless, not throttled after a specific amount of utilization is hit.

For now, although, Qualcomm, regardless of its contentious authorized state of affairs with Apple, in addition to accusations of anti-competitive practices, is forging forward with its 5G technique, hoping to proceed its dominance in an trade that’s slowly clawing its means out of paying it licensing charges for CDMA.

Till then, although, we’ll nonetheless have pretend 5G.

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