Back in February 2016, we introduced the Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, the first commercially announced cellular modem capable of Gigabit LTE download speeds. Now, less than a year later, it’s shipping in a real product, on a real network.
Last week, Qualcomm Technologies, along with Telstra, NETGEAR, and Ericsson, held “The Gigabit LTE Experience” event in Sydney, Australia to celebrate the arrival of the world’s first Gigabit LTE mobile device and network.
Media and industry analysts from around the world got the chance to experience Gigabit LTE first hand via the NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 mobile router. This incredible device packs the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem for Gigabit LTE connectivity, and Qualcomm 11ac Wi-Fi with 2x2 MIMO designed so you can connect up to 20 devices simultaneously, with a large battery that keeps the data flowing for nearly 24 hours, and many other impressive features.
The event began with the requisite speed test. The NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 achieved incredible download speeds of 930 Mbps and upload speeds of 127 Mbps on Telstra’s live network.
While impressive, the event was explicitly not about peak speeds, though they are interesting proof points about the raw capabilities of the device and network. Rather, we wanted to show attendees the amazing user experiences that Gigabit LTE makes possible.
First, we demonstrated live 360-degree 4K video streaming using YouTube VR, running in a Google DayDream VR headset, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon powered Pixel XL phone inside. Actually, make that five DayDream VR headsets working simultaneously, all streaming from a single Nighthawk M1. For the live video, we installed a 360-degree 4K camera by Sydney Harbour near the iconic Sydney Opera House. The camera streamed the video it captured using the NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 over Telstra’s live Gigabit LTE network. One editor wrote of the demo: “That’s a pretty demanding video to be live-streaming over a mobile network, and yet I witnessed not a single frame dropped.” Another editor wrote that the video “looked pretty incredible.”
We then demonstrated just how much better access to cloud storage gets with Gigabit LTE. Two laptops were set up side-by-side — one connected to the Nighthawk M1, and the other to a Cat 6 LTE phone (Cat 6 is the current baseline for most LTE networks and devices). A Google Drive folder was shared with both laptops simultaneously, and attendees witnessed how much faster the laptop connected to the Nighthawk M1 synchronized the shared folder to disk. One industry analyst noted: “At peak, #GigabitLTE had 8 files to 1 downloaded.” If you were a creative professional waiting to synchronize high-resolution photos before being able to work on them, you’d appreciate the blazing speed of Gigabit LTE.
Finally, attendees experienced the power of Gigabit LTE in two different video scenarios. First, we downloaded Lifeline, a short film available on the Snapdragon YouTube channel, using YouTube Red. The film is 32 minutes long, and we downloaded an HD version of the film in 15 seconds with Gigabit LTE. Yup, that’s right — just 15 seconds. Imagine if you were about to board a long flight and you realized you forgot to download some entertainment. No need to panic. With Gigabit LTE, you can download those videos for offline viewing quickly and easily.
Then, we showed how the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem inside the Nighthawk M1 can also improve upload speeds — up to 3X those of traditional LTE devices. We uploaded a 4K video (about 300 MB in size) to Google Photos, and it uploaded in 30 seconds. Just think how long it typically takes to upload videos over LTE. And this was a 4K video in all its glory.
It’s important to note that all of the demos, with all of their connected devices, were served from a single Gigabit LTE cell site. The fact that we were achieving such incredible speeds and experiences while sharing the connection speaks to the astonishing capacity of Gigabit LTE.
Looking forward, we’re bringing Gigabit LTE to smartphones, with the Snapdragon 835 processor with integrated X16 LTE. You should expect to see smartphones with Gigabit LTE announced by the middle of this year. What’s more, 15 operators in 11 countries are slated to launch or commercially trial Gigabit LTE in 2017.
What will it be like to have the power of Gigabit LTE in the palm of your hands? Based on everything I saw in Australia on Telstra’s network, it’s going to be absolutely amazing.
If you want to dive a bit deeper into the technologies that make Gigabit LTE possible, including carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO, and 256-QAM, check out my Snapdragon X16 LTE modem announcement blog post.