Qualcomm claims first 5G mobile connection

Qualcomm has claimed the first 5G mobile connection [Image: Georgijevic via iStock]

Qualcomm has announced it has successfully achieved a 5G data connection on a 5G modem chipset for mobile devices.

It marks the world’s first 5G mobile internet connection, making it more likely that the company will be able to deliver this technology by 2019, as it has previously said it will.

Qualcomm said its Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset “delivered gigabit speeds and a data connection in the 28GHz mmWave radio frequency band”. The company explained this would drive a new generation of mobile technology, while accelerating the delivery of 5G new radio (NR) enabled mobile devices to consumers.

In addition, Qualcomm has previewed its first 5G smartphone reference design for the testing and optimisation of 5G technology within the constraints a smartphone represents.

Cristiano Amon, executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies Inc and president of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT), said: “Achieving the world’s first announced 5G data connection with the Snapdragon X50 5G modem chipset on 28GHz mmWave spectrum is truly a testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ leadership in 5G and extensive expertise in mobile connectivity.

“This major milestone and our 5G smartphone reference design showcase how Qualcomm Technologies is driving 5G NR in mobile devices to enhance mobile broadband experiences for consumers around the world.”

However, not everyone is impressed with Qualcomm’s achievement. Professor William Webb, author of 'The 5G Myth: When vision decoupled from reality', told the BBC that “5G is not yet clearly defined, they've just postulated what they think it will look like”.

He added that the development is not “5G in its final form, so it's premature to say it's a 5G demonstration”. Prof Webb explained that speeds higher than 1Gbps were already achievable using the current 4G mobile internet.

This was shown by Huawei's Kirin 970 chipset, which can offer mobile speeds of up to 1.2Gbps when it is used with compatible network equipment.

Qualcomm developed a new millimeter wave antenna roughly three-quarters of an inch in diameter in order to make the X50 modem work in a smartphone form-factor. The company explained that two of these antennae can be fitted in a smartphone.

While it is already the smallest millimeter wave design available, Qualcomm intends to reduce its size by a further 50 per cent over the coming 12 months.

The company said that when the chip is finished and ready to ship to smartphone manufacturers, it will be capable of achieving speeds of 5Gbps.