The race to reach the 5G does not stop even a second. 3GPP, which is responsible for defining the standards of mobile networks, continues to work on the definition of 5G, which we expect to be ready for a year or so, while the different companies involved (from component manufacturers or network equipment to operators) continue to boast about their progress.
If we recently saw how Orange and Ericsson taught us a 5G connection that could reach 15 Gbps of download in real environments, today Qualcomm has shown the public the first modem for 5G ready to work. The X50 announced now a year ago has moved from paper and schematics to reality and the company expects to have it in our hands in the first half of 2019.
Practically every day we could talk about a company boasting about its tests with 5G. The reason is no other that, because the standard is not defined, each actor wants it to look more like his idea, to take advantage of the arrival on the streets of the fifth generation of mobile networks. But today’s demonstration of Qualcomm is one of the highlights.
All of the tests we’ve seen so far have been done with great equipment, set up in laboratories or vehicles, but it has never been possible to miniaturize both the 5G connectivity and to enter a smartphone, something totally necessary for the future. That’s what Qualcomm has achieved, creating a modem smaller than a fingernail, offering up to 5 Gbps download.
At the moment the X50 uses different carriers with a width of 100 MHz each in bands superior to the 28 GHz to offer the connectivity, although that scheme will have to be modified in the future. The use of such high bands is happening right now because they are more liberated than the low ones and a big bandwidth is needed, but at the moment of truth, it will be necessary to make room for the 5G in the 600-700 MHz to be able to offer a good coverage in urban settings.
Despite the uncertainty of the lack of standard and the availability of bands in different countries, the step that Qualcomm has taken is of great importance. The 5G already fits into a phone, now it is time to prepare the networks and the spectrum to start working, predictably in late 2019 or early 2020.