Qualcomm’s X50 can power early 5G devices, promises download speeds of 5Gbps

Early 5G adopters need not worry regarding 5G coverage since X50 can seamlessly switch between Gigabit 4G LTE and 5G connections.

5G trials are well under way around the world boosted with support from the FCC and the European Union. In the United States, Verizon, has disclosed its aiming to implement 5G sometime in 2017, thus giving our expectation a specific time frame.

To bring about that reality, in Hong Kong, at the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit, Qualcomm has announced its first 5G modem – the Snapdragon X50 – which supports download speeds of upto 5 Gbps.

To better appreciate this, here’s a context, with today’s 4G LTE network, we are barely touching gigabit bandwidth. In fact, most of us barely cruise at 150Mbps on our phones let alone 300Mbps or 450Mbps.

Qualcomm has disclosed that X50-powered devices “are expected to be available during the first half of 2018.”

The timing will be crucial since the 5G standard should be completed by then and internet service providers will need these crucial devices to test bandwidths, especially since it has been testing the 28 GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) band which is what the X50 will initially support, on top of 4G LTE.

Before you raise your hopes too high and since the 5G standard is in the process of being defined, Qualcomm has stressed that the X50 has been designed for early 5G deployments. Furthermore, it’s not yet clear which type of device the X50 is targeting – smartphones or routers.

The X50’s promise of download speeds at 5 Gbps is achieved by using the 800 MHz bandwidth in the mmWave spectrum. In real world terms this will mean that the usage of the high frequency will limit its penetrative range, so to mitigate this issue, smartphones and modems will utilize MIMO antennas with intelligent beamforming and beam tracking technology so as to bounce signals off walls, trees and such obstacles.

It will take a couple of more years before we see the full deployment of 5G tech. Thus, naturally, early adopters will have limited 5G coverage. But that’s not really a concern since the X50 can seamlessly switch between Gigabit LTE and 5G as long as the device is paired with a Snapdragon processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem.

Application for the utilisation of such super high speed bandwidth are already taking off in the form of Virtual Reality videos, realtime augmented reality, ultra-high quality multimedia content, IoT, applications which depend on cloud computing, you name it.


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