We know that the world of 5G begins this year with an unlimited marketing train starting with 5G leader Qualcomm, but both Qualcomm and Intel were teasing 5G modules for M.2 slots at Mobile World Congress 2019, an interesting move for 5G adoption.
Fibocom was showing off its FG100 module at MWC 2019, a new M.2 module that packs the Intel XMM8160 5G modem that will make its way into new PCs and laptops. AnandTech also saw a "similar M.2 module" that used the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem, and was on display at the Qualcomm booth at MWC 2019. The new 5G modules are on the widest M.2 standard which is 30mm wide, and as AT notes is "8mm wider than the storage based drives we normally see in this form factor". The Fibocom FG100 has support for both NSA and SA networks, and 5G in mmWave bands and sub 6GHz, too.
We're looking at up 2.4Gbps of LTE download speeds using LTE, up to 4Gbps using sub-6GHz, and up to 6Gbps on mmWave. Upload speeds aren't too far off with up to 450Mbps on LTE, around 2.5Gbps on sub-6, and up to 3Gbps on mmWave.
If you weren't already confused about USB and its last moves with the USB 3.2 standard then buckle up, because things are about to get more confusing. The USB Promoter Group, which is the standards body of the USB specification, has announced the new USB4 standard.
The new USB4 standard will be fully detailed in the coming months, but for now we know there will be a doubling in bandwidth from 20Gbps over USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 to a huge 40Gbps under USB4. USB4 will rid itself of the Type-A connector and move into the world of USB-C which will unify things on top of pumping a huge 40Gbps of bandwidth around.
The slightly confusing part is that USB4 is not just a new standard, but it is a new speed and connection standard.
Intel just recently held an event in Taiwan where it unveiled the new spec, where it has offered open licensing on its Thunderbolt 3 technology, making it royalty free for third party companies to use. This means we'll see the Thunderbolt 3 standard teaming with USB4 for one cable connectivity for all things high bandwidth including external GPUs, networking products, docks, PCI expansion and much more.
It seems that the days of straightforward standard naming are behind us, with USB-IF determined to rename both the USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 standards to USB 3.2. Back when USB-IF renamed USB 3.0 (5Gbps) and USB 3.1 (10Gbps) to USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2, many people were confused as to why they would rename a standard that was so easy to understand.
It seemed like a marketing move to intentionally confuse consumers, and it seems like they are going to do it again. USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) will be renamed to USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) will be renamed to USB 3.2 Gen 2, and the actual new 20Gbps standard will be renamed to USB 3.2 Gen2 x2, which will be two lanes of USB 3.1, USB 3.1 Gen 2, or USB 3.2 Gen 2 depending on the time of the year.
We also learned from a USB-IF partner rep on Reddit, that there will also be a USB 3.2 Gen 1 x2, which is two 5Gbps lanes, for a total of 10Gbps. While USB-IF has said that the marketing names for these ports will be SuperSpeed USB (5Gbps), SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, and SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps, we expect most device specifications and product markings to use the former naming scheme as most currently do.
Qualcomm has just unveiled its second-gen 5G modem with teh announcement of the Snapdragon X55, a beast of a chip that handles both 5G and 4G connectivity with support for both mmWave and sub-6GHz spectrums, like its X50 predecessor.
The new Snapdragon X55 ramps up theoretical peak speeds to 7Gbps (up from 5Gbps) download and up to 3Gbps upload. You won't hit those speeds walking around down, as you'll need to use the right phone, be in the right spot, and have perfect network conditions to be pulling down 7Gbps and uploading at a huge 3Gbps. Qualcomm has introduced 5G FDD support in the new Snapdragon X55, which is an important building block for Europe and other countries where it will free up low-frequency spectrum (600MHz to 900MHz) for that all-important 5G.
Qualcomm hosted its annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Maui, Hawaii last year where it talked about using the Snapdragon X50 inside of the 5G-powered smartphones of 2019, but the new Snapdragon X55 will be what powers the 5G phones of tomorrow... as in 2020, and beyond. Qualcomm says it won't have Snapdragon X55 available until "late 2019", the company just announced it ahead of time to blow our minds open even more.
Verizon is ready for the next level in LA, with the company announcing it will be enabling 5G services in LA sometime later this year.
Verizon boss Lowell McAdam has said that 5G services will kick off in LA later this year, but it'll be for fixed services at first, before 5G-capable mobile devices arrive in Q1 2019. Verizon has "locked in" four cities for its initial 5G rollout, with more cities planned in the near future.
AT&T will be launching mobile 5G in over 12 cities at first, naming three of them already while T-Mobile and Sprint won't be flicking on the 5G lights until 2019 at the earliest.
It looks like I'll need to move to South Korea for some blistering fast internet access, with SK Broadband announcing its new 2.5Gbps high-speed internet service recently, teasing future 5Gbps and 10Gbps connectivity.
SK Broadband is owned by South Korea's largest wireless carrier, SK Telecom, which use their Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) to hit 2.5/5/10Gbps. GPON technology uses something called a "point-to-multipoint architecture" that sees a single optical fiber line with multiple unpowered fiber splitters.
The carrier says that it developed GPON technology as an alternative to ethernet cables, with a single SK GPON reaching 52.5Gbps, which is absolute insanity. SK Broadband is expecting to be able to provide 5Gbps and 10Gbps internet services in 2H 2018, all powered with their GPON technology.
SK Broadband isn't the only one that will be offering 10Gbps internet services, with rival KT (Korea Telecom) coming out with 10Gbps internet in September.
The dream of 4K TV would be to have 120FPS and HDR in the future, and it seems we will with the latest "Phase B" guidelines from the Ultra HD Forum.
The group recently published their "Phase B" guidelines that tease a world of next-gen 4K broadcast technology, ushering in 100-120FPS video, with a fallback to 60FPS. On top of that, the group is wanting dynamic HDR video through the likes of Dolby Vision and SL-HDR, while Dolby AC-4 and MPEG-H would take care of the audio side of things.
4K 120FPS video with HDR and higher-quality audio is going to blow out the bandwidth, so the Forum is hoping Content Aware Encoding will drop those requirements.
Qualcomm threw down the 5G gauntlet last year, but with their massive 3Gbps speeds teased in 5G simulation tests during MWC 2018 the company is taking it to the next level. Intel is now teasing its own huge 5G push where the company will be powering a "broad-scale" 5G network at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Intel has announced it will be working with NTT Docomo to build a 5G network for the 2020 Olympic games in Japan, which is something Intel is expecting to be the biggest 5G deployment in the world, at the time of the Olympics.
Better yet, Intel is promising insane 8K 360-degree video streams over their 5G network for the 2020 Olympics in Japan. We should see 4K and 8K cameras and even drones capturing 4K video by then, with these cameras 5G-enabled. Intel says that it will also be powering 5G integration in vehicles, with teh company already seeing 1Gbps while watching 4K video and on-the-move at 30kmph (18.6mph).
I plan to attend the 2020 Olympics in Japan purely as a technology enthusiast and fan of the next big thing, especially since it's Japan of all places. But with the huge push into AI, self-driving cars, 8K video, 5G networks and more being highlighted and used during the 2020 Olympics, I'll be there for sure.
Qualcomm will enter an entire new level of dominance once they get 5G into the world, but just how fast will those speeds be? We know to expect over 1Gbps, but up to 5Gbps? We're talking over 500MB/sec downloads over a cellular connection and not Wi-Fi, but that is the future.
Qualcomm decided to run 5G simulated tests during Mobile World Congress, where they modeled two real-world conditions in Frankfurt, and San Francisco. The locations are based on existing cell sites and spectrum allocations in two popular, and very dense cities.
The simulation took into consideration things like geography, varying user demands on the network, a bunch of different devices with varying levels of LTE and 5G connectivity for different speeds across devices in order to simulate what to expect from a 5G device.
Qualcomm's tests on the Frankfurt simulation leaps from 56Mbps on the existing 4G connection to a mind-melting 490Mbps on 5G, a huge 7x increase in web browsing speeds instantly. Qualcomm expects to see over 90% of users pushing past 100Mbps download speeds on 5G, compared to just 8Mbps on LTE.
Last year Intel had announced their new XMM 8000 series of 5G modems, and now they have partnered up with vendors to make mobile PCs with 5G a reality in 2019.
Intel is working with Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Microsoft to make this reality sooner rather than later. In fact, if you attend Mobile World Congress (MWC), you will be able to see a new detachable 2-in-1 PC with an early 5G modem and an i5 8th Generation processor.
Intel will demo 5G by showing live streaming of a video over the 5G network. With the increase in throughput that 5G offers, the technology will change the way we experience data. Intel wants us to imagine untethered VR, downloading a 250MB file in seconds in a parking lot, and even multi-player gaming in your autonomous car.
With new technologies, there are always obstacles to maneuver around and delays are quite common, but it does seem that Intel's 5G hardware is on track to land in 2019.