Qualcomm announces new modems for future 4G and 5G networks

19 Oct 2016


Qualcomm has announced new modems for future 4G and 5G networks at its 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong.

The company's new Snapdragon X16 modem now available would be leveraged on the world's first Gbit mobile network beginning this quarter  by Telstra, which is known for leveraging leading-edge wireless technology.

Telstra's network will be powered by equipment from Ericsson with the new MR1100 mobile hotspot (portable Wi-Fi) from Netgear using a discrete X16 modem.

Qualcomm further signalled that the new modem would be integrated into the company's next generation Snapdragon smartphone chipset. This would mean the Snapdragon 820/821 would start bowing out in early 2017 as new devices using the modem start becoming available in the second half of 2017.

The X16, a Cat-16 modem uses 4x20MHz carrier aggregation and 256-QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) on the downlink and 64-QAM on the uplink which delivers maximum theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps and 150Mbps, respectively.

However, signal interference and network loading do not allow the achievement of theoretical maximums.

Qualcomm said, initial tests of the modem had demonstrated average downlink speeds of 112Mbps to 307Mbps with as high as 533Mbps in areas with optimal signal strength.

According to experts, the X16 modem represents a step increase in speed over the 600Mpbs maximum speeds that the current X12 supports. According to Qualcomm, carriers in every market would launch gigabit LTE service once the modem became available in smartphones.

But Qualcomm is not resting with the X16 and  is announcing its first 5G compatible modem. The Snapdragon X50 which was expected to become available in 2018 would support speeds up to 5Gbps.

It uses the 28GHz millimeter wave band hits those speeds using beam forming and beam tracking technologies.

According to Qualcomm, the 5G antennas were much smaller than current 4G ones, and an array of 16, 24, or 32 could be used in the place of one 4G antenna.

The first products to use the X50 would be expected to launch in the first half of 2018, and according to Qualcomm, it would use the 2018 winter olympics in Korea to test 5G technology.

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