You’ve heard 5G is coming, though it might seem tough to get excited about what is essentially an incremental improvement in mobile internet speeds. But Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon wants to change that, announcing the chipmaker’s new 5G features at IFA 2019 and laying out some of the uses of faster mobile internet like video streaming, connected cars, augmented reality, and cloud gaming.
The theme for Qualcomm’s 5G expansion is “everything is connected,” with devices linked to the cloud to provide unlimited access to data and better computing power. While 4G met the industry’s need of transformation from desktop to mobile, Amon says 5G will solve new kinds of problems by improving connectivity between devices. “Everything will benefit from being connected,” he predicted.
A big emphasis for 5G development is on video streaming, which Amon says is the future of entertainment. Whether it’s watching high-definition YouTube videos or video chatting with friends or family, the idea is to enable HD playback on mobile devices from anywhere. Apps, too, will benefit from offloading their processing requirements away from phones and into the cloud.
The other big target for 5G is gaming. Qualcomm has set its sights on consoles, with Amon boldly announcing the company is “working to make the next gaming console the last gaming console.” With the ability to download large games in seconds and to stream games to mobile devices, 5G smartphones are coming for the console market. Serious gaming on a mobile device is already on its way thanks to a partnership between Microsoft and Sony tackling cloud-based gaming and, of course, the upcoming Google Stadia service.
To support these ambitions, Qualcomm is expanding 5G support across its Snapdragon 8 Series, 7 Series, and 6 Series processors. The chips should be commercially available by the end of this year, with brands making 5G devices available for 2020. This move has the potential to make 5G available on a much wider range of devices and to reach more than 2 billion smartphone users.
There’s also the announcement of the 5G-enabling Modem-RF System which combines a modem, RT transceiver, and RF front end into one package, in what Qualcomm calls a “modem-to-antenna 5G solution.” It’s all the hardware parts needed for 5G support bundled into one system, which is the fastest available modem in the mobile industry.
Another aim is to make 5G available to more users, especially those who live in rural regions with poor broadband connectivity. The first step in this is the introduction of the millimeter wave (mmWave) antenna module which will bring 5G to the home. With 5G wireless access, there is an alternative to fiber which is better suited for more remote areas.
Qualcomm also shouted out its partners in pushing 5G, being joined on the stage by Alex Choi of Deutsche Telekom who talked about the state of 5G adoption in Germany, June Hee Lee of Samsung who talked about the company’s range of 5G phones including the troubled (but now apparently fixed) Samsung Galaxy Fold, and BMW’s Christoph Grote who addressed the company’s big plans for 5G connected cars.
When it comes to 5G, “No one company can do everything,” Amon said. “It’s all about infrastructure.” That’s certainly true, as for now 5G availability is spotty at best and the industry will need to work hard to convince skeptical customers to upgrade their phones yet again.
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