Mobile internet speeds are going to get a lot faster in the next couple of years, as telecom companies around the world, including those in India, are planning to roll out 5G networks by 2020.
These speedier networks are expected to be game changing, due to their the ultra high internet speeds—expected to be 10 to 20 times faster with lower latency compared to existing 4G networks. Experts believe this will help drive emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IOT) and Virtual Reality (VR).
What makes 5G faster than existing networks is the high-frequency signals in the millimetre-wave (mm-wave) frequency band (30 to 300GHz), which will be available for mobile broadband for the first time. However, a major limitation of higher frequency bands is that they have a shorter transmission range, making it difficult for signals to penetrate objects such as walls. Even a user’s hand wrapped around a 5G phone can restrict signals and affect the network quality.
To overcome this limitation, Qualcomm has developed a 5G NR millimetre-wave antenna module called QTM052, which includes an integrated 5G NR radio transceiver, power management IC, RF front-end components and phased antenna array. Up to 4 such antennas will be paired with every Snapdragon (X50 5G) modem to take advantage of advanced radio wave technologies such as beam forming (when an access point uses multiple antennas to send the same signal) and beam steering that changes the direction of the radiation pattern by switching antennas.
Due to the presence of multiple antennas, signals in the millimetre-wave frequency band will reach the smartphone or mobile device from all directions, allowing more consistent internet access at ultra high speeds.
In India, the 3.3 to 3.6GHz band has been identified as the primary 5G band. This means the new module will not make sense for users in India unless the mm-wave frequency band is made available to telecom operators. According to news reports, Indian authorities showed interest in airwaves in the 24.25-27.5 GHz, 31.8-33.4 GHz and 37-40.5 GHz at the World Radio Communication Conference in April 2018.