In the lead-up to Mobile World Congress, @Qualcomm announced its Snapdragon X24 LTE modem, a 7 nanometer component capable of speeds up to 2 Gbps. The company claims the modem is the first commercially announced Category 20 modem. Key features of the company's third-generation LTE modem include aggregation of up to seven carriers and a flexible set of 20 independent spatial streams. Snapdragon X24 spatial streams can be combined for a variety of carrier aggregation and MIMO configurations. As an example, a designer of user equipment striving for high spectral efficiency could blend five carriers with 4x4 MIMO.
Why spatial stream flexibility matters: For mission-critical LTE, the modem is important not just for its performance, but its ability to combine fragmented slices of spectrum held by mobile operators. This means that mobile operators with fragmented spectrum can better support high-performance data requirements. The variety of carrier/MIMO configurations enabled by 20 spatial streams helps user equipment designers accommodate a wide range of performance targets.
For the most part, mission-critical LTE features are independent of a device modem set, if we set aside proximity services. But high-performance modems open the doors for expanded access to sophisticated cloud-based applications that contribute to greater situational awareness and strengthened operational decision making.
It is not just a 5G World: While 5G is sure to be the star of Mobile World Congress 2018, continued advancements in LTE components are equally important as LTE becomes the ubiquitous bedroom of high-performance mobile broadband networking. Look for further LTE announcements from network equipment vendors, device suppliers and silicon specialists. The "evolution" in LTE continues.