Qualcomm's Snapdragon X24 modem will enable 2 Gbps LTE speeds

Lena Tucker
February 14, 2018

"Qualcomm Technologies is deeply committed to helping our customers deliver next-generation 5G mobile experiences to consumers, which requires enhanced mobile broadband 5G NR connectivity enabled by 5G NR networks, mobile devices and the Snapdragon X50 5G modem", said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

Qualcomm's new 2Gbps LTE modem is an important step toward 5G. The extreme speeds are enabled by aggregating five 20 MHz LTE carriers across three different frequency bands with each carrier using 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM technologies.

"The wireless industry is going to compete on LTE network into the next decade", T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said on a call with analysts last week. 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). "The Snapdragon X24 LTE modem sets a major mobile industry milestone, created to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019". On Wednesday, Qualcomm took the wraps off the X24, a new LTE modem that supports download speeds of up to 2Gbps.

That's a lot of jargon, but here's the key takeaway: the X24 can sustain high peak download speeds even on congested networks. The first commercial devices equipped with the Snapdragon X24 are expected by the end of the year.

That standard, Hanna explained, supports an overlay for 4G LTE networks to get decent data rates into users' hands before networks are fully 5G-ready. The X24 modem won't make it into a smartphone until 2019, so no: you won't be seeing this thing in your shiny new Snapdragon 845 device. "We're excited to demonstrate these advancements at Mobile World Congress and showcase how our technologies are created to expand the reach of 5G NR to new industries, new deployment and business models, and new ecosystem participants". It's meant to give us a glimpse of the kind of mobile broadband we can expect with the arrival of 5G in 2019.

The X24 is the first commercially-announced Category 20 LTE modem and is based on a smaller 7nm manufacturing process so the chip can be more efficient - and draw less power - than previous mobile modems. There is also full-dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO) to give way to carriers to start sending their 5G signals. That's because "5G starts us off at 5 times faster than the best 4G networks available today", said Sherif Hanna, Qualcomm's director of product marketing for 4G and 5G products. Operators will also be able to use their spectrum more efficiently while delivering high speeds to consumers.

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