Qualcomm 5G demo gets the ball rolling on device development

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Qualcomm Technologies announced it has successfully achieved a 5G data connection on a Snapdragon modem chipset for mobile devices, effectively starting the race to develop mmWave-compatible 5G devices.

Qualcomm also previewed its first 5G smartphone reference design for testing and optimization of 5G tech in a smartphone form factor.

The 5G data connection demo – which was conducted in Qualcomm’s labs in San Diego – used a Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset, which achieved gigabit download speeds, using several 100-MHz 5G carriers, as well as a data connection in the 28-GHz band.

Dimitris Mavrakis, research director at ABI Research, commented that while the demo took place in a controlled lab test environment, it marks a tipping point where the mobile industry is evolving from 5G as a concept to actual hardware that will eventually be optimized, miniaturized and commercialized.

“The Qualcomm announcement will likely create a new wave of innovation in the chipset and device ecosystem, which will eventually feed into commercial devices, Mavrakis said. “Qualcomm’s reference design is perhaps a more important announcement in that aspect – using this design, vendors can now create compatible devices and develop products for 5G.”

The caveat, Mavrakis added, is that it’s still early days for mmWave 5G on the network side of the equation. “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.”

At the recent TechXLR8 Asia event in Singapore, keynote speakers representing KDDI and NTT DoCoMo made a similar point, describing the challenges they faced with 28-GHz signal propagation in dense urban environments.

“Many issues need to be resolved before early networks are switched on and compatible devices are in the hands of consumers,” Mavrakis said.

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