Qualcomm developing Snapdragon X50 5G modem for OEMs, operators to use in 28 GHz trials

Qualcomm’s 4G/5G Summit takes place this week in Hong Kong.

HONG KONG -- With an eye toward the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea, where 5G is expected to be on full display, the 5G ecosystem is charging full-speed ahead, and Qualcomm Technologies (QTI) is no exception. The company announced it is developing a 5G modem -- the Snapdragon X50 5G -- that OEMs and operators will be able to use as part of their early 5G trials and deployments at 28 GHz.

The Snapdragon X50 eVP5G modem will use Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking techniques, which is supposed to facilitate robust and sustained mobile broadband communications in non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments.

“The Snapdragon X50 5G modem heralds the arrival of 5G as operators and OEMs reach the cellular network and device testing phase,” said Cristiano Amon, EVP, QTI and president, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies, in a release. “Utilizing 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.”

Amon made the announcement here at Qualcomm’s 4G/5G Summit, which the company is hosting for many of its operator partners based in Asia. The event is also seeing representation from U.S. operators like Verizon and AT&T. The event includes exhibitions and presentations covering everything from drone reference designs to augmented reality and the state of 5G.

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Designed to be used for multi-mode 4G/5G mobile broadband, as well as fixed wireless services like the type Verizon has talked about, the Snapdragon X50 5G modem can be paired with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with an integrated Gigabit LTE modem and interwork cohesively via dual-connectivity, according to the vendor. Qualcomm says Gigabit LTE will become an essential pillar for the 5G mobile experience, as it can provide a wide coverage layer for nascent 5G networks.

Working with 800 MHz of spectrum, the chip is designed to support peak download speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second, which is similar to the speeds that Nokia and U.S. Cellular said they achieved in indoor and outdoor tests recently at 28 GHz. That implementation also used 800 MHz.

Much of what Qualcomm – and the rest of the 5G/wireless ecosystem, for that matter – is doing at 28 GHz is meant to inform the standards-setting process.

“One of the objectives of getting in this early is obviously to get through the learning curve, accelerate the learning curve and accelerate the standardization of 5G NR, that’s where we’re going to get global scale, global interoperability and ecosystem scale as well,” Peter Carson, product marketing senior director at Qualcomm Technologies, told FierceWirelessTech. “So these early deployments in 28 GHz are going to give us learning in key areas of massive beamforming and massive MIMO architectures and how to implement effectively in small mobile devices, how to overcome propagation challenges and mobility challenges and as well working with the very wide bandwidths of the 800 MHz.”

Sampling for the Snapdragon X50 5G modem is expected to begin in the second half of 2017. The first commercial products that will integrate the Snapdragon X50 5G modem are expected to be available during the first half of 2018.