Qualcomm achieves multi-gigabit Snapdragon X50 5G connection

Qualcomm has achieved a 5G data connection using its Snapdragon X50 5G NR mobile modem chipset, attaining gigabit speeds across mmWave spectrum in a lab trial.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Qualcomm Technologies has announced achieving a 5G data connection on its Snapdragon X50 5G New Radio (NR) mobile modem chipset, attaining gigabit speeds across the 28GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) frequency band.

The trial was conducted in the company's San Diego lab, using several 100MHz carriers; Qualcomm's SDR051 mmWave RF transceiver integrated circuit (IC); and Keysight Technologies' 5G Protocol R&D Toolset and UXM 5G Wireless Test Platform.

According to Qualcomm, the test was also limited to the "power and form factor constraints of a smartphone", with Qualcomm Technologies president Cristiano Amon calling the silicon product a "testament to Qualcomm Technologies' leadership in 5G and extensive expertise in mobile connectivity".

"This major milestone and our 5G smartphone reference design showcase how Qualcomm Technologies is driving 5G NR in mobile devices to enhance mobile broadband experiences for consumers around the world," Amon said during the announcement at the Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning.

Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon X50 -- the world's first commercial 5G modem chipset solution -- at last year's 4G/5G Summit, with the modem family to be made commercially available during the first half of 2019.

It was designed to enable field trials and early deployments of 5G networks globally, allowing download speeds of around 5Gbps and supporting operation in the mmWave spectrum at the 28GHz band, with 800MHz bandwidth, along with Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO), adaptive beam-forming, and beam-tracking technologies.

The solution includes the modem, SDR051 mmWave transceivers, and PMX50 power management chip.

The modem can be used for 4G and 5G mobile broadband, along with fixed-wireless broadband devices, when paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon platform and its gigabit-speed 4G modem.

"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase," Amon said at the time.

Qualcomm last month predicted that 5G smartphones will be commercially available by 2019 due to increasing demands from the consumer and business segments driving an acceleration of the previous 2020 timeline, after predicting in January that 5G will support up to 22 million jobs and produce around $12 trillion worth of goods and services by 2035.

"You will see [5G] in real devices, on the shelf, in 2019," Qualcomm CEO Steven Mollenkopf said during the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

Mollenkopf added that there are already several network operators in the United States, Japan, and South Korea that are preparing for a 5G launch in 2019, and said that they would likely be joined by Chinese carriers.

Qualcomm has also been involved in assisting 3GPP in developing 5G standards, and researching and designing sub-6GHz and mmWave NR prototype solutions and IC products.

The chip giant's 5G interoperability and over-the-air trials with carriers and vendors worldwide have also seen it partner with Ericsson and Telstra to conduct 5G NR testing during the second half of 2017.

For the trial, the companies will make use of mmWave spectrum technologies at higher-frequency bands to increase network capacity and allow for multi-gigabit speeds across the 28GHz, 39GHz and sub-6GHz spectrum bands, as well as the MIMO, beam-forming and beam-tracking technologies.

Qualcomm and Ericsson have also partnered on 5G trials with Japanese telecommunications provider NTT DoCoMo and European giant Vodafone using Qualcomm's prototype devices and Ericsson's prototype base station solutions.

The trial with NTT DoCoMo will take place in the first half of 2018 in Japan, utilising the mid-band 4.5GHz spectrum in addition to 28GHz using 3GPP Release 15 standards on Massive MIMO, beam forming, and adaptive self-contained time-division duplex (TDD), along with scalable OFDM-based waveforms for wider bandwidths, advanced coding and modulation, and a low-latency slot structure design.

The trials in the United Kingdom with Vodafone, meanwhile, were slated to take place in the second half of 2017 across the sub-6GHz bands, also using Massive MIMO, beam forming, adaptive self-contained TDD, scalable OFDM-based waveforms, waveforms for wider bandwidths, advanced coding and modulation, and a new framework design.

Qualcomm is also aiding Verizon in its bid to roll out 11 pre-commercial 5G trial networks across the United States alongside Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson, Intel, LG, and Nokia.

Verizon's first trial 5G network was deployed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in May, with the other 5G networks -- in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Sacramento, California; Seattle, Washington; Washington DC; Bernardsville, New Jersey; Brockton, Massachusetts; and Denver, Colorado -- to be deployed before the end of 2017.

Qualcomm in February announced its first successful 5G connection.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Qualcomm 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong as a guest of Qualcomm

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