• Briefcase-sized X50 modem shrunk to fit into a phone
  • 5G technology to reach public by 2019
  • Qualcomm trying to attain dominance in 5G technology

In the beginning of the year at the Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm showcased a technology that was pretty shocking but it still didn’t have a concrete form to it.

5G, the next generation in wireless technology is going to come combined with the benefits of current high-speed 4G LTE with something faster, more abundant and notably cheaper but i.e., when it comes of course. The technology is not going to be available to the public until at least 2019- interestingly companies like Qualcomm are already preparing themselves for the shift.

Around a year ago, Qualcomm announced its first 5G modem, called X50. It was then a prototype product, that had partial specifications of an unproven wireless technology, but in the company’s opinion, it was a successful first step towards proving that 5G was indeed a possible thing. At that time, the modem was briefcase-sized and was showcased in a glass display.

Now today, the company announced its same X50 modem and the product has not only been shrunk down to the phone – suitable dimensions but the modem is even working on Qualcomm’s first 5G reference smartphone.

Photo Credit: Qualcomm

By using the 5G chip, Qualcomm has been able to achieve gigabit speed using “several 100MHz 5G carriers”. These carriers are the air channels over which the information flows and not the wireless carriers you pay for every month — in the 28GHz millimeter wave spectrum. Such type of high frequencies have enormous capacity advantages as compared to the sub-3GHz ones we use for LTE presently, but these can only travel fractions of the same distance and also require massive localized antennas to push the signal further. It is also very hard for a phone with such small antennas to send and receive signals at these high frequencies.

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When 5G networks will hopefully launch in 2019, Qualcomm foresees its X50 chips inside Android phones that will lead the transition. The company also expects the technology to co-exist with 4G LTE for further years, just like we still use 3G signals as back-up when LTE isn’t available. However, Qualcomm’s representative Sherif Hanna said that in the initial days of 5G, the technology will mostly act as a “turbo mode” for the existing 4G and will work side by side to add power to the existing networks.

Qualcomm, for now, despite the company’s touchy legal situation with Apple, as well as with its accusations of anti-competitive practices, is still forging ahead with the 5G strategy and is hoping to continue its own dominance in an industry that is slowly scrabbling its way out of still paying the licensing fees for CDMA.


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