Current portfolio supports sub-6 GHz TDD bands and NSA 5G NR
Wailea, HAWAII–Qualcomm this week launched its new premium-tier mobile SoC, the Snapdragon 855, that will power 5G smartphones from OEMs like Samsung and OnePlus, which will hit the market in the first half of 2019. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to company President Cristiano Amon.
Speaking to media and analysts at the Snapdragon Tech Summit this week, Amon discussed the evolutionary nature of chipset support for 5G.
Case in point: Verizon and AT&T this week announced they’d offer up a Samsung handset, powered by Snapdragon 855, and compatible with their respective millimeter wave spectrum holdings. AT&T then said they’d have another Samsung device out in the second half of the year that supports its sub-6 GHz frequencies, likely re-farmed UMTS bands. Sprint has also announced a 5G handset with partner LG and pointed out it has a long-term relationship with Samsung.
Then there’s T-Mobile US. The carrier has pinned its 5G plans to its nationwide FDD Band 71 (600 MHz) spectrum. Thing is, there’s not any silicon support for 5G at 600 MHz. At least not yet, Amon said, teasing a potential evolution to the X50 modem and calling out both the Consumer Electronics Show in January and Mobile World Congress in February. The X50 currently supports TDD sub-6 GHz frequencies.
And future evolutions of the Qualcomm portfolio will be built on the company’s strong position in 5G today, he added. “We’re focused on delivering all the capabilities of 5G,” Amon said, calling it “a moving target. It’s very dynamic.”
Circling back to T-Mobile US for a moment. CEO John Legere regularly roasts AT&T and Verizon–dumb and dumber or the duopoly, as he calls them–for going to market with millimeter wave in limited markets.
Specific to devices, let’s look back at a statement Legere put out in February this year around MWC: “Dumb and Dumber are in a meaningless race to be first. Their so-called 5G isn’t mobile, and it’s not even on a smartphone. It’s a puck?! You gotta be pucking kidding me! While the duopoly focus on bragging rights, we focus on customers. T-Mobile has massively bigger plans for a truly transformative 5G experience on your smartphone nationwide.”
Fast forward to today. AT&T will turn up mobile 5G in 12 markets by year-end, followed by more early next year with a Samsung smartphone. Verizon will stand up mobile 5G early next year with a Samsung smartphone. Granted, both do have mobile hot spots as the very first devices, they’ve also got articulated plans for handsets from a desirable OEM and well-developed network footprints in their select markets.
To recap: AT&T and Verizon have clear strategies covering spectrum, network and device–everything you need to launch a commercial 5G service. Meanwhile, Legere this week launched a cookbook called #SlowCookerSunday – Leadership, Life and Slow Cooking with CEO and Chef, John Legere.