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Qualcomm Technologies has claimed a new landmark in the development of 5G mobile networks after successfully achieving the first laboratory 5G data connection over its Snapdragon X50 5G NR (new radio) modem chipset, using the 28GHz millimetre wave radio frequency band.
The demonstration at its laboratory in San Diego, California, also achieved gigabit download speeds using a number of 100MHz 5G carriers.
“Achieving the world’s first announced 5G data connection with the Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset on 28GHz millimetre wave spectrum is truly a testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ leadership in 5G and extensive expertise in mobile connectivity,” said Cristiano Amon, executive vice-president of Qualcomm Technologies.
“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.”
The supplier has moved quickly on 5G technology, taking barely 12 months to progress from first announcing its 5G modem chipset to having functional silicon.
Qualcomm said it hoped its contributions to 5G development would be instrumental in accelerating the anticipated commercialisation of 5G in the next couple of years, and ABI Research research director Dimitris Mavrakis said that achieving a viable data connection three months before the official 3GPP standard for 5G is expected to be frozen would give it a significant advantage over the competition.
“It is possible that Qualcomm’s announcement will skew the market and the standards discussions in its favour,” said Mavrakis. “It certainly has the potential to kick-start the next round of discussions that will lead to commercial 5G devices.”
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Mavrakis said that while the first data connection over 5G and the creation of a prototype device was indeed an important milestone towards deployment in the wild, it was still very early days for 5G in millimetre wave frequencies, and many issues remained to be resolved before compatible devices would reach consumers.
“There are several challenges to be addressed, including network technologies and deployment topologies, understanding how the communication channel behaves when users are mobile, and much more,” he said.
Qualcomm revealed details of its milestone at its 4G/5G Summit, currently underway in Hong Kong, at which it also announced enhanced support for devices operating in the 600MHz spectrum; a new Snapdragon mobile platform with improved gaming and display features; and a collaboration with operator Verizon and Novatel Wireless to expedite testing and deployment of 5G millimetre wave technology.