It appears that the flagship mobile devices of the next few years would herald a revolution in the mobile data industry. Recently, popular chipmaker Qualcomm has revealed its latest modem, the X20, which is the first of its kind that was able to breach the gigabit barrier. This means that sooner than most would think, a world where mobile devices could access the internet at fiber-like speeds is almost within reach.
The current mobile market does not offer flagship smartphones that are capable of accessing the internet at 1Gbps speeds yet. Even industry leaders such as Apple’s iPhone 7, which is one of the most efficient devices in terms of mobile data, is only capable of download speeds of up to 450 Mbps under Cat 10 LTE. Qualcomm’s new modem, however, could go for far more.
The Qualcomm X20 is capable of reaching download speeds of up to 1.2Gbps, most likely ushering in a new era of mobile connectivity among internet-capable devices. A PC Mag report stated that Serge Willenegger, the senior vice president for Qualcomm’s product management, described how the X20 is designed to be a game changer.
“With X20, we are really expanding the addressable market for this capability. You only need 10MHz of licensed spectrum, plus LAA, to get gigabit speeds on the new modem. That was really the purpose, to really propagate gigabit as far as possible.”
What makes the Qualcomm X20 quite unique in the world of mobile modems is its incorporation of Licensed-Assisted Access (LAA), which enables the internet unit to utilize Wi-Fi airwaves to augment the licensed spectrums of cellular carriers. Currently, some of the biggest cellular providers in the United States, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Verizon, have committed themselves to LAA, which means that the technology would most likely see a widespread rollout soon.
With the Qualcomm X20 being capable of reaching mobile data speeds of 1.2Gbps LTE, the era of 5G networks has just gotten a lot closer. While 5G technology is speculated to take as long as 2021 for a full worldwide rollout, it would be gigabit modems such as the X20 that could bridge the gap between the 4G generation and the 5G era. After all, mobile devices that could reach gigabit speeds would no doubt be considered revolutionary in the cellular market.
According to Qualcomm, the X20 is expected to be featured in commercial products as early as the first half of 2018. This means that the smartphone wars, waged by the titans of the mobile industry, would most likely be very interesting in the years to come. Thus, it would not be surprising at all if the X20 actually makes its way to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon series, most especially in the successor to the Snapdragon 835.
“Historically, we’ve announced a discrete modem and then we announce the new Snapdragon at some point. Unless something wrong happens, we integrate the new modem into the new Snapdragon,” Willenegger said.
Considering that the iPhone 9 (or 8S for that matter) and the Galaxy S9 would be released in 2018, there is a chance that next year’s flagship smartphones would feature cellular technological innovations that would truly make them future-proof, at least until the dawn of the 5G generation. After all, both flagships, as well as halo devices from fellow smartphone makers such as LG, Huawei, OnePlus, and Google are expected to come equipped with Qualcomm’s modems and SoCs.
The era of 5G mobile communications is still a few years ahead. Despite this, the present day’s technology is slowly building up towards the rollout of the revolutionary wireless data technology. With mobile modems such as the Qualcomm X20 at the mobile industry’s disposal, the transition to 5G wireless communication would most likely be smooth and absent of any complications.
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