First 5G Modem Announced

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

First 5G Modem Announced

Qualcomm, a leading provider in cellular enabled modems for use in mobile devices, has just announced its first 5G modem. Dubbed the Snapdragon X50, Qualcomm states the modem can operate at speeds up to 5Gbps. Although the 5G standard hasn't been established yet, Qualcomm is forging ahead hoping to push the industry towards a standard.

"The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase," said Qualcomm exec veep Cristiano Amon. "Utilising our long history of LTE and Wi-Fi leadership, we are thrilled to deliver a product that will help play a critical role in bringing 5G devices and networks to reality. This shows that we’re not just talking about 5G, we’re truly committed to it.”

This new Qualcomm modem will function in the 28GHz range, also known as millimetre wave. These extremely high frequencies will allow for significant data transfer speeds, but the major sacrifice here is signal penetration. At 28Ghz, even a screen door will be enough to block the 5G signal. In these scenarios the modem would drop back to the LTE network which operates at 700Mhz, or millimetre wave base stations will need to be deployed within line of sight of most devices. Qualcomm has created a graphic that goes over a suggested deployment. Read their full release here.


While the prospect of 5Gbps cellular is interesting, it does raise a big question. What will happen to our data caps? With the ability to use an entire months worth of data within just seconds, carriers will have to devise new ways to monitor and charge for data usage. Fortunately, 5G isn't going to be a reality until at least 2020, so we have a few years to figure it out.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 October 2016 )
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