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14 February 2018, 07:15 | Hattie Nash
Qualcomm is doubling down on LTE before moving onto 5G
"As the world's first announced Gigabit LTE modem to achieve speeds of up to 2 Gbps, the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem sets a major mobile industry milestone, created to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019", said Serge Willenegger, senior vice president and general manager, 4G/5G and Industrial IOT, Qualcomm Wireless GmbH, in a press release.
Qualcomm's new Snapdragon X24 LTE modem is the fastest, most advanced 4G chip on the planet.
The Snapdragon X24 supports up to 7x carrier aggregation in the downlink, as well as 4×4 MIMO on up to five aggregated LTE carriers for up to 20 concurrent spatial LTE streams.
The 4G/5G overlap is, like the 3G/4G migration before it, a deliberate strategy: carriers upgrade their 4G networks, and will first deploy 5G in customer-rich zones like central business districts. Hardware partners looking for even more performance can choose the just-announced discrete Snapdragon X24 LTE modem. This technology advancement will enable faster mobile broadband speeds and greater network capacity for all subscribers. Interestingly, Chinese phone manufacturer Vivo was one of the first to confirm that they will be coming up with a smartphone carrying the Snapdragon X50 5G NRmodem next year.
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Qualcomm Technologies, Qualcomm's fabrication subsidiary, has begun sampling the X24 ahead of mass production in the coming months - it expects the standalone configuration to become available by the end of the year, and the X24 modem to make its way to consumer devices in 2019. The X24 modem won't make it into a smartphone until 2019, so no: you won't be seeing this thing in your shiny new Snapdragon 845 device.
David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research, said: "This latest addition to Qualcomm's modem stable is clearly a continuation of the company's drive to take the industry closer to 5G, while also significantly widening the technology gap from its competing suppliers. We're excited to demonstrate these advancements at Mobile World Congress and showcase how our technologies are created to expand the reach of 5G NR to new industries, new deployment and business models, and new ecosystem participants".
The company's top-speed 4G modem, the Snapdragon X24, supports peak downloads of 2 Gbps (with the usual caveat that you'd need to be the only person connecting to the tower), and the X50 will push that to a peak of 5 Gbps. There is also full-dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO) to give way to carriers to start sending their 5G signals.
Qualcomm says its fibre-like data speeds enhance burgeoning data-heavy cellular activities like immersive 360-degree video, connected cloud computing and instant apps. Operators will also be able to use their spectrum more efficiently while delivering high speeds to consumers.
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