Qualcomm Announces First All-Carrier-Ready 5G Modem

Joanna Estrada
February 20, 2019

When we announced the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G Modem back in 2016, it was a groundbreaking step forward, setting us on the road to 5G commercialization. Snapdragon X55 is created to accelerate global 5G rollout and bring 5G to a broad range of device categories and applications beyond smartphones, including hotspots, Wi-Fi routers, Always Connected PCs*, laptops, tablets, XR devices and connected cars.Combined with Qualcomm RF Front End solutions, the Snapdragon X55 is created to support high-power fixed wireless access (FWA) services and equipment.

The QET6100 isn't the first 5G ET solution (ET is also available on the X50 and competing solutions), however Qualcomm is able to claim it's the first to support 100MHz upload spectrum, while its predecessor was only able to support 40MHz.

Qualcomm says these new chips won't be out until "late 2019".

FierceWireless is returning to Barcelona, Spain, during Mobile World Congress 2019 with a two-day Executive 5G Panel Series at the Fira Congress Hotel, conveniently located across the street from the MWC Convention Center.

5G-enabled smartphones haven't even hit the market yet but that isn't stopping Qualcomm from advancing along its development roadmap.

5G is going to majorly complicate smartphone design. Today, 4G LTE phones use a single-chip design with an SoC and modem integrated into a single piece of silicon.

Having said all this, buying a phone with a 5G modem will still arguably be more of an interesting proposition than something practical for many people for a while longer. Samsung, too, has a 5G modem called the Exynos 5100 that will power many Samsung devices sold outside the United States. Qualcomm's second-generation 5G package is still part of the same big pile of multiple chips, but the chips themselves should be smaller. For one, it allows devices to be sleeker. In addition to providing flexibility, 5G/4G spectrum sharing support also helps operators improve network efficiency and capacity.

Qualcomm, the world's largest mobile chip supplier, is hoping the device will fuel the spread of 5G phones later this year and next year.

Most of this is made possible by the QTM525 antenna module pictured above, an all-in-one mmWave device. Thanks to to-scale pictures next to a penny, we know the older QTM052 module was about 5mm tall. But now, let's see what improvements is Qualcomm bringing with the X55. The X55's standalone support - where 5G networks are used for everything - is likely to be more important in geographies like China, which are expected to be the first to roll out standalone 5G network infrastructure. As Qualcomm prepares to pepper its "extreme" 8cx processor across the market, in addition to the Snapdragon 850 PCs out there, it already has multi-day battery life and enough computing power for most needs on lock. You'll still need an SoC. The X50 offers only 5G connectivity, so phones with that modem also feature Qualcomm's X24 LTE modem, which is capable of delivering speeds up to 2 Gbps. It supports the 5G mmWave and sub-6GHz frequency bands and will work on standalone 5G networks as well as those that use 4G backends, which will be the most common as the new technology is being introduced. Unlike 4G LTE, which saw limited deployment in the very early days, 5G expansion is set to be considerably broader in terms of geographies and technical standards.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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