Qualcomm's new X24 LTE modem can reach a ridiculously fast 2 gbps

Among the final flurry of announcements to come from Qualcomm's big 5G day was, curiously enough, a new 4G modem.

To achieve those 2Gbps speeds, the chip can combine up to seven connections at once, known as 7x carrier aggregation, with hundreds of potential combinations of both licensed and unlicensed spectrum to find those speeds. That means you can realistically expect "Stranger Things" Season 2 in HD to download in between 84 seconds (1.4 minutes) and 28 seconds in the adjusted, real-world range.

So, how does this new, bonkers-fast LTE modem fit in with Qualcomm's strategy to launch its X50 5G modem next year?

We likely won't see the fruits of this achievement until well into 2019, which puts the X24's debut on the cusp of the X50's, Qualcomm's first 5G NR modem.

The list of global operators supporting Snapdragon X50 5G Modem for Mobile 5G NR Trials in 2018 includes AT&T, Sprint, Verizon (USA), BT (UK), China Telekom, China mobile, China Unicom - from guess where - China, Deutsche Telekom (Germany), KDDI, NTT Docomo (Japan), Korea Telekom, LG Uplus SK Telekom from Korea, Orange, Vodafone (many countries in Europe), Telecom Italia mobile (TIM) and of course Australia's jewel Telstra. Well, Qualcomm is targeting the Snapdragon X24 LTE as a form of gateway drug into 5G, offering speeds the next-generation mobile broadband looks to offer but on 4G.

It also the first chip to be made using a 7nm FinFET fabrication process and the first Category 20 LTE modem. The X24 LTE will be an upgrade over X20 LTE modem found on company's flagship Snapdragon 845 mobile platform.

The Snapdragon X24 also offers a glimpse of our 5G future, where the internet connection to our smartphones and other connected devices is faster, more stable and available in more places.

The Snapdragon X24 supports up to seven carrier aggregation (topping things like Samsung's latest Exynos chipsets, which supported six carrier aggregation) and 4x4 MIMO antenna arrays on up to five aggregated LTE carriers, which allow for a theoretical maximum of 20 concurrent LTE streams.

Qualcomm says the X24 may be its last LTE modem. In the uplink, Snapdragon X24 supports Category 20 upload speeds, 3x20 MHz CA and up to 256-QAM.

Serge Willenegger, SVP and General Manager, 4G/5G and Industrial IOT, Qualcomm Wireless GmbH, said: "As the world's first announced Gigabit LTE modem to achieve speeds of up to 2GBps, the Snapdragon X24 LTE modem sets a major mobile industry milestone, created to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019". At the same time, operators can gain flexibility in using their spectrum assets to offer blazing fast speeds to consumers, while also improving their network capacity and maximizing spectral efficiency.

  • Joey Payne