OnQ Blog

We introduced the world to 5G — now it’s going mainstream

Feb 18, 2020

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

5G adoption is happening. Fast.

Since launching last year, 5G commercial deployments rolled out in more than 20 countries across the globe and millions of people are using 5G phones. 5G is expanding worldwide and permeating new segments and industries. And our 5G platforms are helping our customers reach more people in more places. Simply put, 5G’s momentum is extraordinary.

And it’s not slowing down — this year, 5G goes mainstream. More than 275 5G devices announced or in development are built on Qualcomm Technologies’ solutions, including new 5G phones recently launched. These devices are based on our second-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon Modem-RF systems featured in the Snapdragon 865 and Snapdragon 765 Mobile Platforms. 

We’re also collaborating with operators to help them make use of mmWave spectrum for extreme speeds and capacity as well as expand 5G coverage nationwide using low frequency bands and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). When it comes to global expansion, we’re working with network operators and OEMs around the world to scale 5G to even more regions, including Canada, France, India, Japan, Latin America, Russia, and Southeast Asia. 

In 2020, we’re continuing to push the boundaries of what’s possible, from the technologies enabling 5G to the devices delivering it. Here’s a look at the groundbreaking progress we’ve made and why everywhere you see 5G, you see Qualcomm:

Strengthening the 5G foundation

Three out of four major U.S. operators that rolled out 5G last year did so with support for mmWave, which delivers Multi Gigabit download speeds with increased bandwidth available in the higher frequency bands. This statistic is a promising indicator that devices launching later this year will rely on these higher frequency bands as well. Another strong indicator is a recent mmWave spectrum auction in the U.S., which has raised a record of more than $7.5 billion, proving that there is a high demand for these frequency bands.

As mmWave adoption continues to spread, more OEMs are preparing to launch phones with support for 5G mmWave in 2020. mmWave support is also expected to arrive in Europe, Russia, Japan, and South Korea this year, with more countries signing on in 2021.

To further broaden 5G coverage, we’re working with companies to use low FDD bands and DSS. DSS allows operators to quickly take advantage of spectrum currently being used for 4G LTE for 5G – with co-channel co-existence of 4G and 5G devices – and enables smooth migration from today’s 5G non-standalone to standalone mode. This standalone mode doesn’t require an anchor on the legacy 4G network and enables exciting new services using 5G quality of service and network slicing features. 

It’s been exciting to see success in using FDD low bands and DSS. With our support, nationwide 5G was launched in the U.S. last year in FDD band, along with the first FDD DSS call. This will supplement existing mid-band and mmWave deployments and accelerate 5G rollouts. In Europe, we worked with Swisscom to achieve the first over-the-air 5G data call that uses DSS — a big step toward nationwide 5G coverage in Switzerland. We also collaborated with Vodafone and others to demonstrate the world’s first 5G DSS on a combination of two low spectrum bands with our Modem-RF solution, which can revolutionize how operators provide 5G to consumers.

5G beyond premium

Our efforts to drive expansion of 5G coverage and availability would mean little if we didn’t prioritize 5G adoption across a variety of devices and price points. At the Snapdragon Tech Summit 2019, we announced our flagship Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform, which is expected to power the majority of premium Android smartphones this year. We also debuted the Snapdragon 765 5G Mobile Platform, which supports both mmWave and sub-6 GHz and will bring 5G-capable devices to even more consumers. For instance, consumers in China can get their hands on smartphones powered by these newly-announced platforms for less than $300.

To ensure broad access to 5G, we support it across our Snapdragon 800, 700, and 600 series this year. As we continue to scale 5G across our tiers, we expect shipments of 175 million to 225 million 5G handsets this year and over 450 million in 2021.

New 5G segments

5G isn’t just for smartphones – it can replace cable or fiber to bring high speed, reliable internet access to homes and businesses, including in previously underserved areas. Over 30 OEMs have chosen the Snapdragon X55 Modem-RF system for more than 60 Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) products. Amongst those 5G FWA designs for wireless access point/routers and integrated broadband gateways, over 90% feature Qualcomm Networking Pro Series platforms for next generation Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and network management, enabling end-to-end performance superiority.

PCs with 5G connectivity can provide consumers, small businesses, and the enterprise with multi-gigabit connectivity, multi-day battery life, and faster performance in sleek devices. At CES 2020, Lenovo announced its Lenovo Yoga 5G PC, the world’s first Snapdragon-powered Windows laptop with 5G that includes support for both sub-6 GHz and mmWave. HP also introduced a laptop with 5G integration. Both PCs are powered by our Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System, and we expect more 5G PCs with our technology to debut later this year.

Expanding our 5G capabilities

We just announced our 3rd generation Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System that’s designed to further enhance 5G performance worldwide. This comprehensive 5G modem-to-antenna solution features breakthrough innovations, including the world’s first 5-nanometer multimode baseband. It is also the world’s first 5G Modem-RF System to support spectrum aggregation across all key bands and combinations such as mmWave and sub-6 using frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD). This provides ultimate operator flexibility to uplift 5G performance utilizing fragmented spectrum assets. 

The Snapdragon X60 Modem-RF solution allows more operators to offer fiber-like internet speeds and low latency using 5G, unlocking the next generation of connected experiences for more people. Consumers will be able to enjoy applications like highly responsive multiplayer gaming, immersive 360-degree video, and always-connected cloud computing — all with superior power efficiency for all-day battery life*.

Later in 2020, 3GPP will complete its next iteration of 5G specifications: Release 16 will include groundbreaking features that will expand the benefits of 5G to new industries, such as 5G massive IoT, 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum, 5G NR Cellular-V2X for advanced automotive and smart transportation, and 5G NR private network and ultra-reliable low latency communications for the Industrial IoT. These technologies will be integral to future innovations that rely on a 5G connection.

Since we first unlocked 5G, it’s been fascinating to see how the world is embracing the next generation of wireless. As 5G networks continue to proliferate across the globe, we’re continuously working to give operators and OEMs the tools and platforms to create 5G-enabled experiences and transform how the world connects, computes, and communicates.

5G is here, and it’s ushering in a new era of innovation, the Invention Age. We can’t wait to see the many ways people around the world will experience it.

*Always connected cloud computing requires network connectivity. Battery life varies significantly based on device, settings, usage and other factors. Qualcomm Snapdragon and Qualcomm Networking Pro Series Platforms are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.


Opinions expressed in the content posted here are the personal opinions of the original authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Qualcomm Incorporated or its subsidiaries ("Qualcomm"). Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to be an endorsement or representation by Qualcomm or any other party. This site may also provide links or references to non-Qualcomm sites and resources. Qualcomm makes no representations, warranties, or other commitments whatsoever about any non-Qualcomm sites or third-party resources that may be referenced, accessible from, or linked to this site.

Durga Prasad Malladi

Senior Vice President & GM, 5G, Broadband & RAN, Qualcomm Technologies

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