It was getting pretty hairy there for Apple and the future of the iPhone as Intel couldn't muster up anything but smoke and mirrors with its 5G modems, and now that future is secured thanks to Qualcomm.
Qualcomm and Apple have agreed to settle all of their ongoing lawsuits, which puts a bookend at the end of a lengthy slew of lawsuits that spanned the world across multiple countries. Apple has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of money to Qualcomm, with a new 6-year global patent licensing agreement, with the option to extend it by another two years.
Apple hasn't been able to offer industry-leading LTE performance from its last few generations of iPhones, and it would've been multiple years behind if it had not secured a deal with the leader in 5G: Qualcomm. Qualcomm would've known this was going to happen and just had to play the long game, waiting patiently and now here we are. Qualcomm 5G technology will be inside of future Apple products, and that's a good thing for everyone involved.
I'm sure you thought that was a click bait headline and I really wish it was, but it is not. It's the reality we live in today, with a British farm trialling 5G-connected cows. Yes, you read that right - 5G-connected cows will be milked in this trial.
Reuters is reporting that the government-funded Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI Centre) in Shepton Mallet, in southwest England. The farm will see 50 or so of the 180 herd fitted with 5G smart collars and health-monitoring ear tags.
Duncan Forbes, the Project Manager at the Agri-Epi Centre explained: "We are testing the ability of 5G to transmit the data from our sensors much quicker, and not via farm's PC and slow broadband internet connection. And the significance of that is it means that this sort of technology could be taken up... not just on farms but on rural communities right across the country".
5G smartphones will be here later this year with Qualcomm paving the way to 5G dominance with its Snapdragon family of products to roll out throughout 2019 that will power the next wave of devices. But what about the 5G roll out in the US?
AT&T has now declared that it is the first US-based telco to hit 1Gbps speeds on a 5G network, something the carrier did in "multiple cities" on the Netgear Nighthawk 5G mobile hotspot. The 5G testing is happening by invitation in 12 cities across the US, with AT&T's SVP of wireless technology Igal Ebaz, telling PCMag in an exclusive interview: "It was just the evolution of the standards and the capabilities. The software had to evolve across all of the ecosystem".
This is obviously just a test but 5G speeds on Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 8cx processor will reach a dizzying 7Gbps, which will deliver over 800MB/sec of speed to your smartphone or Windows-based device. Even if you're getting 1Gbps that is a huge increase over the speeds that 4G, something that AT&T will only boost when it flicks the switch that will combine LTE and 5G into a single connection.
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.