Qualcomm's CEO on 5G: It Will Disrupt Everything

Qualcomm laid out its 5G vision during a livestream media event last week and announced a host of products and partner deals, from the continued growth and adoption of its 5G RAN platform (FSM100xx) by worldwide cellular infrastructure providers to a long list of global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) choosing the Snapdragon 865 5G Mobile Platform for the first wave of 2020 5G smartphones.

Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf kicked off the event. "5G disrupts every industry you can think of," he said, "from health care to energy distribution, retail to the factory floor. And quite frankly, it's probably the biggest opportunity we've seen for the wireless industry and for Qualcomm in the 35 years that we've that we've been in existence."

As Qualcomm sees it, 5G is about much more than wireless, Mollenkopf added, it's about the way the Internet works.

"5G is about all these smart things happening at the edge," he said. "It's about the smartphone changing. It's about intelligence moving closer to where the data is. And it's really the beginning of a multi decade opportunity for Qualcomm."

Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon took the stage and echoed Mollenkopf's sweeping vision of 5G. "5G is beyond the telecommunication and phone industry," he said. "It's going to change the automotive industry, manufacturing, and the future of the workplace and productivity."

"Our job," he added, "is to focus on driving 5G to scale across all regions and all price points."

What we should expect from Qualcomm in the coming year, Amon said, are new 5G technologies that will enable a host of new services and applications. It won't be a static roadmap, but a dynamic path from the company's decision to accelerate its 5G efforts in 2017. It will include things like significant millimeter wave expansion, not only from different markets, but also across more frequency spectrums. We're going to see the low band converted into 5G; dynamic spectrum sharing is going to get scale, allowing operators to upgrade their existing 4G networks to 5G. And spectrum aggregation will deliver real 5G performance in the 4G spectrum. Also, the transition to network virtualization, which has been one of the big promises of 5G, will meet the 5G network needs for one open, scalable, and cloud-native architectures.

The company unveiled a new extended reality (XR) reference design headset based on the Snapdragon XR2 Platform, during the press event. It's world's first 5G-enabled XR reference design, the company said, and the culmination of four generations of XR reference design expertise. The reference design simplifies complex technologies and enables customers to bring the next generation of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) devices to consumers and the enterprise in 2020.

The company also introduced the Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System, its third-generation 5G modem-to-antenna solution. It features the world's first 5-nanometer 5G baseband, the company said, and it's the world's first 5G Modem-RF System to support spectrum aggregation across all key 5G bands and combinations, including mmWave and sub-6 using frequency division duplex (FDD) and time division duplex (TDD).

And the company announced its new ultraSAW radio frequency (RF) filter technology. RF filters isolate radio signals from the different spectrum bands that phones use to receive and transmit information. By achieving as much as 1 decibel (dB) improvement in insertion loss, the company said, Qualcomm's ultraSAW filters offer a higher performance solution compared to competing bulk-acoustic (BAW) filters in the sub-2.7 GHz frequency range.