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Qualcomm's Snapdragon X24 LTE modem trounces fibre broadband speeds

14 February 2018

At its 5G day yesterday (US time), Qualcomm laid out other 5G NR developments on its drawing board, including licensed-assisted access (LAA) for sharing spectrum between licensed and unlicensed applications; and Qualcomm's spectrum-share scheme called 5G MulteFire (a 5G version of a technology that uses unlicensed spectrum for LTE transmissions).

The world's first Category 20 LTE modem - a 7 nanometer FinFET process - supports up to 2 Gbps download speeds.

At full whack, the modem chipset is twice as fast as any of Qualcomm's previous efforts. It is also the world's first 7nm process chip - making room for battery-efficient results.

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That's a lot of jargon, but here's the key takeaway: the X24 can sustain high peak download speeds even on congested networks. At the beginning, as carriers start to roll out their 5G networks, 4G LTE is going to still be important for many mobile users.

So what's the point?

US-based semiconductor company Qualcomm has started sampling Qualcomm Snapdragon X24 LTE modem and devices makers are expected to launch their new devices by the end of 2018. This, in turn, opens the door to better performance than what we have now, though since your network speeds aren't just dependent on the modem in your phone, it might be best not to expect 2Gbps speeds from phones utilizing an X24 at all times. Sprint's 5G network, set to launch in the first half of next year, utilizes a different part of the spectrum than AT&T's will, for example, and so it may require a specialized RF front-end solution paired with Qualcomm's X50 modem on handsets. It's meant to give us a glimpse of the kind of mobile broadband we can expect with the arrival of 5G in 2019.

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It's not a true 5G chip though, with the firm's already announced X50 chip capable of speeds up to 5Gbps, but it's likely to arrive in phones later than the X24.

Ericsson, Telstra, Qualcomm Technologies and NETGEAR will be showcasing the lightning-fast 2Gbps speeds in a live demonstration at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26-March 1, in hall 2, booth 2O60.

As the world's first commercially announced Category 20 LTE modem supporting download speeds up to 2 Gbps, the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem delivers 2x the speed of the Company's first generation Gigabit LTE modem.

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"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 of Qualcomm's wireless division. On the upstream side, the modem supports 3x20 MHz carrier aggregation and 256-QAM for upload speeds up to 316 Mbps.

Qualcomm's Snapdragon X24 LTE modem trounces fibre broadband speeds