Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Science | By Eileen Rhodes

Snapdragon X24 blurs the line between 4G LTE and 5G

Snapdragon X24 blurs the line between 4G LTE and 5G

If you now own a smartphone (and who doesn't these days), it's likely rocking a 4G LTE modem. That will rely not only on licensed spectrum, but on carriers using Wi-Fi airwaves to transmit LTE data, which is called Licensed Assisted Access or LAA. Apple and Samsung both use Qualcomm's modems in some of their products while Huawei does not. In the U.S., both T-Mobile and AT&T plan to implement LAA in the coming months. The demonstration will illustrate how 2Gbps speeds are achieved on LTE by running 4×4 MIMO on five 20MHz carriers. Operators like Australia's Telstra could do that, Hanna said. This unprecedented feature set is created to allow devices that feature the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem to utilize all spectrum assets available from a mobile operator, whether in licensed spectrum, or with License Assisted Access (LAA). The highest carrier aggregation now supported in Canada is 4x carrier aggregation, though through the use of unlicensed spectrum carriers could take full advantage of the modem's capabilities. The announcement also beats Intel's XMM7060 modem, scheduled for mid-2019, which will support 1.6Gbps. "This latest innovation represents another significant step up in speed and features that will give customers a real taste of what's to come with 5G like performance", said David Henry, senior vice president, connected home products, NETGEAR.

As the industry moves towards delivering 5G networks and smartphone modems in 2019, the new Snapdragon X24 LTE modem's promise to deliver fiber-like Internet speeds delivered wirelessly.

The capability overlap between 4G and 5G here isn't actually all that weird; it happened with 3G and 4G, too.

This modem will physically join X50 5G modems in the first generation of 5G-enabled smartphones, Qualcomm representatives confirmed at the event. 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. LTE now runs at speeds HSPA+ couldn't even dream of, of course. It will also enable many more connections per cell, which is important for sensor networks. We can expect speeds up to 10 times faster than the average 4G network, he added.

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The industry headed off the risk of a "profusion of specifications" by settling around what's become the 5G NR (next radio) standard, he said.

That means for a fully 5G-like experience, you're going to need the X24's variety of 4G, as well.

The X24 is the first commercially-announced Category 20 LTE modem and is based on a smaller 7nm manufacturing process so the chip can be more efficient - and draw less power - than previous mobile modems.

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