Qualcomm brings 5G on phones closer to reality

Device manufacturers and OEMs had a big problem for a certain variation of 5G: getting the antenna chips small enough to fit in handheld devices. Qualcomm’s new chip promises a fix. 

On Monday, Qualcomm unveiled its new QTM052 millimeter wave and QPM56xx sub-6GHz radio frequency antenna module families. They work alongside the company’s Snapdragon X50 5G to bring superfast network speeds to smartphones . The modules will let phone makers cover the gamut of 5G airwaves, including the shorter-range but faster millimeter wave spectrum and the more reliable but slower sub-6GHz airwaves.

The modules will show up in mobile hotspots later this year and in smartphones in the first half of 2019. The potential peak download speed could be up to 5Gbps for the millimeter wave variant, though the more realistic speed you’ll see in phones is closer to 1.4Gbps, Qualcomm said. That’s much faster than today’s 4G, which is about 70Mbps, and even faster than the sub-6GHz’s expected speeds of 400Mbps to 500Mbps, the company noted.

5G, the next generation of cellular technology, is expected to significantly boost the speed, coverage and responsiveness of wireless networks. It can go 10 to 100 times faster than your typical cellular connection today, and even quicker than anything you can get with a physical fiber-optic cable going into your house. It’ll take seconds to download a full TV season, and doctors will be able to perform remote surgeries in real time.

All cellular networks send data over the air, with standard networks using spectrum in lower-frequency bands like 700 megahertz. Generally, the higher the band or frequency, the higher the speed you can achieve. The promise of 5G is that it can use higher-frequency bands, called millimeter wave, to send data faster than ever before. Those signals operate on frequencies of 24GHz or higher, compared with the 600MHz to 5.8GHz used for 4G today.


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