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Here’s how super-fast 5G download speeds just got way closer

Qualcomm has revealed that it successfully achieved a 5G data connection of a real, working 5G smartphone modem.

Bringing the world one step closer to fully-functioning 5G mobile internet, US chipmaker Qualcomm today announced a major milestone: 5G speeds on an actual 5G chip.

In February this year, the company – which supplies tech to the likes of Apple and Samsung – debuted the Snapdragon X50 5G modem, but there was no guarantee that we’d see the lofty speeds initially claimed.

However, during Qualcomm’s annual 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong, Trusted Reviews learned that the firm has managed to navigate the choppy waters of 5G with great success. Qualcomm delivered gigabit speeds to the Snapdragon X50 over a 28GHz mmWave radio frequency band, which it says drives “a new generation of cellular technology forward”.

But what does that really mean? To put it in perspective, gigabit speeds mean – at a minimum – seriously rapid downloads. For instance, a 60-minute BBC iPlayer program in high-quality resolution could be downloaded in just over four seconds at a 1.2Gbps download speed. With 4K content becoming increasingly common, such speeds are a major step forward.

What’s more, 5G will open up a whole new world of technologies that were previously impossible to roll out effectively. For example, driverless cars will require massive data transfers to that the vehicles can communicate with smart roads, smart infrastructure, and other vehicles nearby. This means you’ll need to have fast, low-latency, consistent download speeds, the likes of which only a 5G network could offer.

To usher that exciting future in, Qualcomm has also previewed its first 5G smartphone reference design. This means that device makers can borrow this design and use it to test and optimise their 5G technologies “within the power and form-factor constraints of a smartphone”.

Cristiano Amon, Executive VP of Qualcomm Technologies, described reaching the milestone as a “testament to Qualcomm[‘s] leadership in 5G and extensive expertise in mobile connectivity”.

Qualcomm’s impressive speeds were achieved in Qualcomm’s own laboratories in San Diego, so it’s important to note that we’re awaiting still real-world success. However, it’s good news that gigabit download speeds were achieved, made possible by using several 100MHz 5G carriers.

The good news is that we’re getting very close to the 5G future. Qualcomm says its Snapdragon X50 modem family will support commercial launches of 5G smartphones and networks in the first half of 2019. We’ll also have to hang around for networks to supply such speeds, of course, but mobile carriers are working furiously to make sure we have solid 5G in the 2020s.

“5G is going to be one of the most significant transitions we will have in our industry,” said Amon during his Hong Kong keynote. “It’s going to be like electricity.”

Related: Samsung Galaxy S9

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