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4G/3G/WiFi

New Qualcomm Chip Promises 'Gigabit' 4G

Want 1Gbit/s downloads over the air? Well it just might arrive in the US by the end of 2016, as new networks and phones equipped with 1Gbit/s technology start to appear.

To that end, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has started to send out samples of its Snapdragon X16 LTE modem for handset makers to use in their phone designs. The San Diego, Calif.-based mobile chip designer says that the first commercial devices using the chipset are expected to arrive in the final six months of 2016.

Qualcomm claims the modem is the first to hit "cable-like" 1Gbit/s speeds over the air. Of course, for a real-world customer to benefit, they would need to be the one of the only users with a compatible device online, and to be standing very close to a basestation that can support such speeds. Nonetheless, Qualcomm says that using a 4x4 multiple antenna array (MIMO) with data compression can improve speeds on any LTE network.

Naturally, there is a push-me-pull-me dynamic at work here. LTE networks with new MIMO antennas and 256-QAM modulation schemes will deliver higher speeds for all handsets. Smartphones or other devices with the X16 silicon onboard will get the most out of upgraded 4G networks.

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) just unveiled its 4x4 MIMO Gigabit networking system ahead of Mobile World Congress. The Swedish vendor expects devices that can take full advantage of its 4x4 MIMO system to become available later this year. (See Ericsson's 'Gigabit LTE' Will Benefit Current Smartphone Users Too.)

SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Samsung Corp. began introducing 4x4 MIMO networks and handsets in South Korea last year.

Expect to see many more vendors, however, pushing Gigabit LTE this year.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

danielcawrey 2/12/2016 | 3:09:58 PM
Success This is why Qualcomm has been so successful for so long, even though the average consumer probably doesn't even know about the company. These type of chips are going to make the next generation of devices capable of doing things we can only currently dream of, including making virtual reality technology on smartphones a very real product. 
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