Gigabit LTE has become a global wireless phenomenon, and Qualcomm Technologies has been at the forefront of this exciting evolution of LTE technology on the path to 5G.
There are many reasons for Gigabit LTE’s rise to prominence. Apart from the incredible peak speeds that it makes possible, Gigabit LTE increases network capacity and improves download speeds, opens up exciting possibilities for new mobile experiences, and lays a strong foundation on which future 5G NR networks will be built.
It all began with the announcement of the very first commercial Gigabit LTE modem— the Qualcomm Snapdragon X16 LTE modem — in February of 2016. Less than one year later, Qualcomm Technologies, Telstra, NETGEAR and Ericsson together launched the first Gigabit LTE mobile device and network.
Since then, Gigabit LTE momentum has only accelerated. There are now 38 operators serving 1.2B LTE subscriptions in 23 countries deploying or trialing Gigabit LTE, including the four major U.S. operators. Several are using LTE in unlicensed spectrum, an innovation pioneered by Qualcomm Technologies, to achieve Gigabit LTE speeds. LTE in unlicensed technologies makes it possible for a much greater number of operators around the world to offer Gigabit LTE service to their users.
To illustrate the power of these technologies, we are demonstrating Gigabit LTE using Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology together with AT&T and Ericsson at MWC Americas. The demonstration will use the Samsung Galaxy Note8, one of the latest Gigabit LTE-capable smartphones, to demonstrate breathtaking speeds and new experiences including 3D VR video.
This demonstration with the Galaxy Note8 brings to light another key fact: when it comes to handsets, Gigabit LTE is currently a feature that’s unique to premium Android smartphones. Android OEMs have consistently led the way in bringing the latest LTE technologies to users, and this leadership continues with Gigabit LTE. We are excited that we have empowered leading smartphone makers in the Android ecosystem to bring some of the most advanced wireless technologies, which enhance every connected app and mobile experience, to users around the globe. In total, there are currently 10 smartphones and four mobile broadband devices that are Gigabit LTE capable, all thanks to the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem.
But we are not resting on our laurels. Instead, we are charging forward with our second generation Gigabit LTE modem — Snapdragon X20, the world’s first announced Cat 18 LTE modem — breaking through the Gigabit barrier and further enhancing network capacity and real user data rates.
Just a few weeks ago, we demonstrated the power of the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem for the very first time with Verizon and Ericsson. And just a few days ahead of MWC Americas, we achieved a new world record —1.175 Gbps —with T-Mobile and Nokia, and are working now with mobile OEMs to commercialize devices powered by the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem in the first half of 2018.
As we continue to push the envelope with 4G technologies in the real world, Qualcomm is laying a strong foundation for its leadership in 5G, forging ahead with new trial systems that will drive ecosystem readiness for 5G NR launches in 2019. Our new mmWave 5G NR prototype system, with an RF front end designed in a smartphone form factor, will be used to show that, despite mmWave’s challenges, Qualcomm Technologies is uniquely positioned to overcome them and make the technology viable for mobile devices and network.
Let us take this moment to celebrate the great work that Qualcomm and other technology leaders in the mobile ecosystem have achieved together, to keep it the most vibrant and most dynamic technology platform in history.