Qualcomm reveals it's pushing for a 5G future

Will Qualcomm be at the heart of faster 4G?

If you thought mobile internet was fast now you ain't seen nothing yet, and Qualcomm has just confirmed that it plans to take an instrumental role in the development of 5G.

Nothing about 5G is yet set in stone, other than the fact that it will be the next generation following 4G and that it will likely arrive around 2020. But in its 2014 Analyst Meeting Qualcomm outlined its vision for the technology, saying that it "will be user centric to scale for billions of connected devices and will provide a unified platform for all spectrum deployments/business models."

It almost goes without saying that it will also be far faster than any mobile internet connections today and if anyone is in a position to make that happen it's Qualcomm, as the company has also just successfully delivered Cat10 LTE download speeds of 450Mbps.

In a press release it explained that it did this by combining its Qualcomm Gobi 9x45 modem and its second generation Qualcomm RF360 Envelope Tracker.

More signals, more speed

Cutting through the jargon, carrier aggregation (which means combining multiple signals and frequency bands to increase the overall bandwidth available) was at the heart of achieving these speeds, as the modem used is capable of carrying 3 simultaneous 60MHz signals.

Ericsson played a role too, by allowing Qualcomm to use its RBS 6000 family of base stations to conduct the test over. It was a short range test, so over the longer distances required in real use speeds are likely to be lower, but it's an impressive starting point.

Especially as right now most smartphones are only even theoretically capable of speeds of up to 150Mbps and even the latest Snapdragon 805 chip doesn't support more than 300Mbps.

The good news is that these modems are likely to make it into a future Qualcomm chipset, possibly even as soon as 2015, but even if they do the speeds will still be limited by your network and none in the UK or US are yet offering real world speeds anywhere close to 450Mbps.

In other words, while there are still hurdles to overcome it's an exciting time for mobile internet. Next year's phones could deliver dramatically faster connections than this year's and by 2020 the experience could be almost unrecognisable to the one we have today.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.