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Who cares about 5G when Qualcomm’s new LTE modem is this fast

Published Feb 14th, 2018 6:47PM EST
4G LTE speeds vs 5G
Image: DENIS POROY/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Late this year, we’re expecting to see the first 5G devices become available for very limited use on a handful of real-world 5G networks. That’s going to be a huge step forward in the journey towards nationwide high-speed connectivity, but it will also still be the first step. You’re going to have to wait until the next decade for 5G to become ubiquitous, but luckily, Qualcomm has a bonkers new LTE modem to fill in the gaps.

The company has announced its new Snapdragon X24 modem in advance of the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and the details will get you all hot and heavy if you’re the kind of person who nerds out over high-speed mobile communications. The X24 has a peak download speed of 2Gbps, but the really good stuff is how Qualcomm gets there.

To achieve the 2Gbps peak download speed, the X24 can support 20 simultaneous 100Mbps download streams, using a mixture of licensed cellular spectrum and unlicensed LAA spectrum. In order to fit all that inside a smartphone, Qualcomm has moved to a 7nm manufaturing process, making the X24 the first 7nm chip to be announced for sale (although other 7nm chips are certainly coming). The X24 modem support 7x carrier aggregation down, with 4×4 MIMO on up to five carriers at a time.

While you’re not going to be seeing those peak 2Gbps speeds in the real world any time soon, the underlying technology that Qualcomm has put in the X24 will be relevant for support high-speed real-world LTE connections. “Not a lot of operators have seven carriers,” Qualcomm spokesperson Sherif Hanna told PC Mag. “But what they do have is four or five, and now they can use those and add LAA as well on top of it.”

The X24 will be released at the end of this year, so it’ll likely show up in 2019 flagship devices, and potentially a few mobile hotspots (or even Qualcomm-powered Windows laptops!) before then.

Chris Mills
Chris Mills News Editor

Chris Mills has been a news editor and writer for over 15 years, starting at Future Publishing, Gawker Media, and then BGR. He studied at McGill University in Quebec, Canada.