One of the problems facing mobile device makers such as Apple and Samsung is having to work around cellular radio frequency band fragmentation. In all there are 40 cellular radio bands worldwide, and this puts a major roadblock in the way of releasing devices that offer worldwide support on day one.
But not any more. Qualcomm's new RF360 'front end solution' chip offers support for all seven cellular modes, including LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. This chip's worldwide support for 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and LTE Advanced means that the chip supports all 40 cellular radio bands currently in use.
The Qualcomm RF360 offers a number of advantages over current chips. Not only has it has been designed to work seamlessly with exiting chipsets—in particular Qualcomm's Snapdragon hardware—it uses less power, improves radio performance, and reduces chip footprint inside of a smartphone by up to 50 percent compared to the current generation of devices.
Additionally, the RF360 reduces design complexity and development costs, which means that OEM will be able to develop new multiband, multimode LTE products faster and more efficiently.
"The wide range of radio frequencies used to implement 2G, 3G and 4G LTE networks globally presents an ongoing challenge for mobile device designers. Where 2G and 3G technologies each have been implemented on four to five different RF bands globally, the inclusion of LTE brings the total number of cellular bands to approximately 40," said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president of product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "Our new RF devices are tightly integrated and will allow us the flexibility and scalability to supply OEMs of all types, from those requiring only a region-specific LTE solution, to those needing LTE global roaming support."
The RF360 is another step Qualcomm's plans to dominate the mobile space. The company hopes that OEMs will combine the RF360 with the company's Snapdragon processor and Gobi LTE modems to create what Qualcomm calls a "comprehensive, optimized, system-level LTE solution that is truly global."
Handsets featuring the Qualcomm RF360 chip should hit shelves during the second half of 2013.