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Qualcomm Launches Snapdragon X24, World's First 2Gbps LTE Modem

14 February 2018

At its 5G day yesterday (US time), Qualcomm laid out other 5G NR developments on its drawing board, including licensed-assisted access (LAA) for sharing spectrum between licensed and unlicensed applications; and Qualcomm's spectrum-share scheme called 5G MulteFire (a 5G version of a technology that uses unlicensed spectrum for LTE transmissions). "Further expanding on the use of 4×4 and LAA capability, the Snapdragon X24 packs a powerful array of the most advanced 4G LTE technologies commercially available, helping mobile operators to fully mobilize their spectrum assets and maximize the capacity of their Gigabit LTE networks, and mobile device makers to offer consumers a tangible glimpse of our 5G future".

So, how does this new, bonkers-fast LTE modem fit in with Qualcomm's strategy to launch its X50 5G modem next year? Qualcomm says that sampling with its partners has already begun, and that we should see the first devices featuring the X24 launch by the end of the year.

Still, the launch of this modem serves to blur the line between 4G LTE and 5G. 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.

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The demonstration saw 2Gbps speeds achieved by aggregating 100MHz of spectrum across the bands 1, 3 and 7, using a NETGEAR Nighthawk mobile router equipped with Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X24 LTE modem, the world's first-announced Category 20 LTE modem.

So 5G NR will enable very fast smartphones and later always connected 5G NR PCs, IoT 4.0 connected 5G industry and many other aspects.

Qualcomm has announced new Snapdragon X24 LTE modem as a precursor to migration to its 5G modem sometime in 2019.

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The Snapdragon X24 chip is set to be the world's first Cat 20 modem to make it out into the wild and will boast "fiber-like" internet download speeds of up to 2Gbps. "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".

The X24 achieves the speeds it can because it supports "up to 7x carrier aggregation on the downlink" as well as 4X4 MIMO on up to five aggregated carriers. 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 X24 is still a 4G chip, but it features Full Dimension Multi-Input Multi-Output (FD-MIMO) antenna technology that is a key foundation of future 5G NR (New Radio) networks - 5G NR is the global 5G standard. In the uplink, Snapdragon X24 supports Category 20 upload speeds, 3x20 MHz CA and up to 256-QAM.

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Qualcomm Launches Snapdragon X24, World's First 2Gbps LTE Modem