Qualcomm has also recently demonstrated more advanced 5G technologies like spectrum sharing as it seeks to better other the players vying for supremacy in the 5G space such as Samsung and Intel.
The company's top-speed 4G modem, the Snapdragon X24, supports peak downloads of 2 Gbps (with the usual caveat that you'd need to be the only person connecting to the tower), and the X50 will push that to a peak of 5 Gbps. "Further expanding on the use of 4x4 and LAA capability, the Snapdragon X24 packs a powerful array of the most advanced 4G LTE technologies commercially available, helping mobile operators to fully mobilize their spectrum assets and maximize the capacity of their Gigabit LTE networks, and mobile device makers to offer consumers a tangible glimpse of our 5G future". By being able to support both 5G and super-fast LTE connections, devices will be able to more seamlessly make that tradeoff between 5G and LTE since the speeds will - hopefully - be more comparable.
The Snapdragon X24 is the world's first Category 20 LTE modem, and supports download speeds of up to 2Gbps.
Another leg of the strategy is to create more integrated RF silicon, because otherwise smartphones will run into power consumption and size challenges. It's a logical move for Qualcomm, considering that in the early days of 5G networks, coverage will be somewhat limited - especially for mmWave networks, which will likely only exist in highly trafficked areas at first. We've asked Qualcomm if it can divulge more about its rollout plans for the Snapdragon X24 and will report back if we learn anything new.
Qualcomm has previously talked up the 5G X50 modem - boasting speeds up to 5Gpbs, but as it's a 5G chip it will appear in handsets after the X24. The Snapdragon X24, on the other hand, is a future-ready modem - setting the ground for 5G connectivity. The demonstration will illustrate how 2Gbps speeds are achieved on LTE by running 4×4 MIMO on five 20MHz carriers. 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). There is also full-dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO) to give way to carriers to start sending their 5G signals.
In the uplink, Snapdragon X24 supports Category 20 upload speeds, 3×20 MHz CA and up to 256-QAM.
It said equipment manufacturers will benefit from using the chip by offering 360-degree video, cloud computing, entertainment and "instant apps" on their devices. "At the same time, operators can gain flexibility in using their spectrum assets to offer blazing fast speeds to consumers, while also improving their network capacity and maximising spectral efficiency", said Qualcomm in its blog post.