Qualcomm gig 320 Qualcomm is sampling chips and expects devices this year. "Last year, we were the first to provide an LTE Service with a speed of 500 Mbps and this year we push that up to 1 Giga bps." Korea's SKT said on the investor call. AT&T & Sprint could also offer a gig by ~2018 according to my analysis of their spectrum holding, as could the new network in Rwanda. The gig (shared) requires 40-80 MHz more spectrum than most of today's LTE, which I believe many other telcos have or will soon acquire. (I don't know enough about spectrum holdings outside the U.S. to be more specific. Data very welcome.)

Qualcomm's X16 LTE modem is now sampling and Basil El-Kadi tells me they expect commercial devices before yearend. SKT didn't announce their suppliers, but I believe Qualcomm is ahead of everyone else. To get to a gig, LTE-A features:

  • More bandwidth, 60-100 MHz in total (Carrier aggregation)
  • More antennas, 4x4 and 8x8 MIMO
  • More bits per signal, 256 QAM

It's been a very strong year for Qualcomm, who have delivered some outstanding chips. Mediatek had been the big story the last few years, designing good chips and selling them at an attractive price. After a few rough years, Qualcomm seems to have pulled ahead again.

Every informed LTE engineer knew that gigabit 4G (shared) was on the way since 3GPP put it on the roadmap around 2009. LTE standards go up to a nominal 3 gig down, 1.5 gig up, although I don't see 8 MIMO antennas likely in mobile phones. Of course, you don't get those speeds at the cell edge or when the network is congested. But I believe that "gig" LTE will deliver hundreds of megabits 90+% of the time if you have a good connection to the cell site. Getting close to a gig is likely often possible. (Don't ask me why anyone needs those speeds on mobile.)

Qualcomm's founders, Irwin Jacobs and Andy Viterbi, are both Marconi Fellows and among the most important engineers of the last half century. They are retired now, but an EE professor tells me Qualcomm probably still has the best engineering talent in the U.S. 

I get announcements of speeds of 100-450 megabits several times most weeks lately. That's now the most common new equipment. The U.S. has fallen far behind, with more than 20-30 megabits uncommon. Verizon built the world's first large LTE network from 2009 to 2012, but now most of what they installed is becoming obsolete. 

Most people, including Barack Obama, don't realize that the U.S. has seriously inferior networks. Verizon and AT&T have 50,000-70,000 cell sites for 315M people. SKT has 90,000 cells for 50M people.  NTT has 132,00 for 127M Japanese. China Mobile has over a million for 4.3x the U.S. population. Cell counts can't be exact, with small cells and DAS confusing the definition. The differences here are so large they are significant.

The U.S. speeds (generally 10-30 Mbps) do not make us a third world country; Lebanon & the Phillippines have recently announced speeds over 100 megabits in many cities.


I'll have more on the technical details of gigabit 4G as soon as I can get around to writing it. Qualcomm has some good information at https://www.qualcomm.com/news/snapdragon/2016/02/11/welcome-era-gigabit-class-ltewelcome-era-gigabit-class-lte and https://www.qualcomm.com/products/snapdragon/modems/x16. Here's their pr


Qualcomm Announces Mobile Industry’s First Gigabit Class LTE Modem

Qualcomm Technologies’ sixth generation LTE modem chipset supports download speeds up to 1 Gbps, and is the mobile industry’s first announced LTE Advanced Pro modem with support for Licensed Assisted Access

FEB 11, 2016 SAN DIEGO

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


Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that its subsidiary, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., has introduced its sixth-generation discrete LTE multimode chipset -- the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X16 LTE modem, which is built on a leading-edge 14nm FinFET process -- and the Qualcomm RF Transceiver, WTR5975. The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is the first commercially announced Gigabit Class LTE chipset designed to deliver fiber-like LTE Category 16 download speeds of up to 1 Gbps, supporting up to 4x20 MHz downlink Carrier Aggregation (CA) across FDD and TDD spectrum with 256-QAM, and 2x20 MHz uplink carrier aggregation plus 64-QAM for uplink speeds up to 150 Mbps.

The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is the first instantiation of Qualcomm Technologies’ new, advanced modem architecture. This highly scalable architecture, with modular components and common software, will allow Qualcomm Technologies to rapidly evolve its modem product line to address a wide range of connected applications, ranging from ultra-fast mobile broadband to power-efficient connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem also supports Licensed Assisted Access (LAA), the global standard for LTE in unlicensed spectrum, becoming the mobile industry’s first commercially announced LTE Advanced Pro modem. LTE Advanced Pro, beginning with 3GPP Release 13, marks an important next phase for 4G that will expand the technology into new applications and usage models, establishing the foundation for unified and more capable connectivity platforms into the next decade.

The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is designed to reach Gigabit Class LTE speeds using the same amount of spectrum as Category 9 LTE devices. By using carrier aggregation and 4x4 MIMO, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem can receive 10 unique streams of data using only three 20 MHz carriers. Its support for 256-QAM boosts the peak throughput of each stream from ~75 Mbps to ~100 Mbps, with additional gains possible with modem data compression. Additionally, with support for LAA as well as LTE-U, this combination reduces the amount of licensed spectrum required – to 40 MHz or less – to vastly expand the number of operators that can deploy Gigabit Class LTE speeds around the globe.

In addition to the advanced connectivity feature sets, the new modem and transceiver support Snapdragon All Mode, including all major cellular technologies (LTE FDD, LTE TDD, WCDMA, TD-SCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, and GSM/EDGE), frequency bands, Carrier Aggregation band combinations, LTE dual SIM, LTE Broadcast, HD and Ultra HD Voice over LTE (VoLTE) with single radio voice call continuity to 3G and 2G.

“In addition to serving as a significant milestone for the mobile industry, the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem is a powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued technology leadership in all things wireless,” said Cristiano Amon, executive vice president, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., and president, QCT. “Not only does the Snapdragon X16 blur the lines between wired and wireless broadband, but marks an important step toward 5G as we enable deeper unlicensed spectrum integration with LTE and more advanced MIMO techniques to support growing data consumption and deliver an even faster and smoother user experience.”

The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem pairs with the new WTR5975 RF transceiver, the world’s first single-chip RF IC supporting Gigabit Class LTE, LTE-U and LAA with 5 GHz unlicensed band support. The highly integrated WTR5975 supports up to 4x downlink CA, 2x uplink CA, all 3GPP-approved bands, including 3.5GHz bands 42 and 43, and 4x4 MIMO in a single transceiver chip, dramatically reducing the footprint required to support advanced CA and MIMO configurations. The WTR5975 also features a new digital interconnect interface designed to facilitate PCB layout in advanced LTE devices by simplifying routing between the modem and transceiver. The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem pairs with Qualcomm Technologies’ Qualcomm® RF360™ QET4100 Envelope Tracker to provide a major advancement in LTE power efficiency with the world’s first announced 40MHz envelope tracking solution for LTE FDD and LTE TDD.

The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, WTR5975 and QET4100 are designed and optimized together as a system to support fast downloads, swift application performance, as well as provide enhanced thermal efficiency and optimized power consumption. The new chipset is designed to enable a broad range of connected platforms from smartphones, tablets, and mobile computing devices to cars, drones and virtual reality headsets. With Gigabit Class LTE speeds, users will be able to take advantage of breakthrough features, such as live streaming of 360 degree virtual reality content and faster, more seamless access to cloud-based applications and services.

Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, WTR5975 and QET4100 samples are available now, with first commercial products expected in second half of 2016.

dave ask

@analysisbranch for latest updates


Welcome  Asia is installing hundreds of thousands of 5G radios and adding 5G subs by the tens of millions. The west is far behind. 200,000,000 in 2020

The demand is there, and most of the technology works. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

I'm Dave Burstein, Editor. I've been reporting telecom since 1999. I love to hear from readers and say thank you when you find an error. daveb@dslprime.com

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