Qualcomm's mmWave antennas pave way for first 5G smartphones

The first 5G compatible smartphones are now a step closer after Qualcomm revealed it has made the world’s first mmWave antennas and sub-6Ghz RF modules available to device manufacturers.

5G networks will use a mixture of spectrum, including the long-range, low-level 700MHz band, the mid-range 3.4GHz band, and high range millimetre Wave (mmWave) spectrum that had previously been considered too challenging for mobile communications.

MmWave frequencies offer significant capacity, but low range, making them ideal for use in urban areas. The first commercial 5G services due to go live later this year will use mmWave spectrum to power Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) broadband.

Qualcomm 5G equipment

Qualcomm’s QTM052 mmWave antenna module family supports a number of bands, including parts of 26.5-29.5GHz, the entirety of 27.5-28.35GHz and 37-40GHz. Meanwhile the Qualcomm QPM56xx range of RF modules supports 3.3-4.2GHz, 3.3-3.8Hz and 44-5.0GHz.

 “Today’s announcement of the first commercial 5G NR mmWave antenna modules and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones and other mobile devices represents a major milestone for the mobile industry,” declared Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm.

“These type of modem-to-antenna solutions, spanning both mmWave and sub-6 spectrum bands, make mobile 5G networks and devices, especially smartphones, ready for large scale commercialization. With 5G, consumers can expect gigabit-class Internet speeds with unprecedented responsiveness in the palm of their hands, which stand to revolutionize the mobile experience.”

Both work together with the previously-announced Snapdragon X50 5G modem, allowing device manufacturers to release the first 5G smartphones in early 2019. Manufacturers and operators have to date been working with prototype hardware and early standards of 5G.

The first UK 5G networks are expected to go live in 2020.

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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.