Until we have the first 5G smartphones in our hands, we will have to wait until next year. Until then, there is still a lot of work to be done so that 5G networks can be used on smartphones. In addition to the upgrade of the radio masts and new modems must be developed. However, with the announcement of the QTM052 mmWave antenna module, Qualcomm could have taken one of the biggest hurdles.
The Qualcomm 5G Master Plan
As Qualcomm’s own test results at the beginning of the year showed, users will already see big speed jumps with 5G lower-bandwidth solutions. However, the really impressive leap forward will come from the mmWave network. While mmWave technology offers significantly higher speeds, it also transmits in a much shorter range and is much more easily blocked by things like walls and even the hands of users. In order for the fast technology to work, it is first of all necessary to develop usable mmWave hardware for smartphones, which also provides good results in practice.
Qualcomm now claims that its QTM052 module is the solution. It’s a tiny antenna array with four antennas pointing at the next 5G tower (using Qualcomm’s algorithms). The technology can even bounce off signals from surrounding surfaces. The QTM052 is designed so small that device manufacturers can install it within the framework of a smartphone. Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem already supports up to four of the antenna arrays. Thus, one array can be used for each side of the smartphone, allowing a total of 16 antennas. With this arrangement, the signal is not blocked, no matter how you hold the device.
An interesting technique, but still requires patience
Qualcomm’s technique is a smart solution, provided it works as promised. The manufacturer states that the first devices with QTM052 modules will be launched in early 2019. But we will have to wait patiently for the mm waves to gain momentum. Until Germany actually networks for these high frequency ranges (from about 25 GHz) are available, some time will pass. As long as the so-called “sub 6 GHz” spectrum is used, for which Qualcomm offers new antenna modules of the QPM56xx family.
Apple and Qualcomm are not known to be the best business partners and it remains to be seen whether, given the intense litigation, a common future is even considered. On a request fromWhether Apple will use the new technology for future iPhones, Qualcomm replied that they were unable to comment on it.