Qualcomm has announced the Qualcomm X65, a next-generation 5G modem that can reach a theoretical speed of 10 Gbps, a first in the 5G industry.
The latest phones, such as the new Galaxy S21 Ultra are equipped with the Qualcomm X60 modem, at least in the US market. Wireless carriers still have some time to roll out more 5G infrastructure before the first 10 Gbps handsets hit the market, possibly in October but more likely in Q1-2022.
Technically, the next iPhone 13 might feature this new modem. Still, I’m not sold because Apple isn’t heavily promoting 5G speeds and is currently using the X55 modem which people seem to be okay with it.
Qualcomm’s X65 modem can achieve these amazing speeds by gathering ever-more bandwidth through “carrier aggregation”. It means utilizing many different radio-wave spectrums to transport more data in parallel. Qualcomm can put to work nearly all available frequencies simultaneously and combine them into what seems to be a single super-fast connection. The complexity is mind-blowing.
The 10 Gbps speed only happens in ideal conditions. We all know that even today, it’s pretty challenging to get in direct line of sight of a mmWave base station to hit 5G speeds of ~1Gbps. The same will be true in everyday life with 10 Gbps 5G. However, the average speeds will increase, and the latency might decrease even further.
Latency, or the time it takes for a network request to be answered, is often more important than top speed because web connectivity is overwhelmingly made of hundreds of small requests (less than 100KB).
Lower latency opens the door to better network services such as real-time gaming, industrial applications like robotics, or even self-driving vehicles. Virtual-Reality or Augmented Reality are insatiable when it comes to both latency and bandwidth. It wouldn’t be surprising to see these applications going to the next level with X65-levels of 5G performance.
Perhaps the long-awaited Fixed-Internet 5G for homes and businesses will materialize. Still, for all the promises we have heard from wireless carriers, very little is available to customers today. I used to think of 5G as a possible backup for our Fiber internet, but Space X’s Starlink might be available before then and perform much better on average. That’s according to independent reviews I’ve looked at so far.
In any case, the Qualcomm X65 5G modem represents a significant leap from today’s X60, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in action.