On Monday, one of the largest publicly traded company in the world Qualcomm launched a new smartphone, and small cell and infrastructure semiconductors at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
Perhaps more interesting than the new products, however, was Qualcomm‘s commentary on the traction globally for the fastest—but also the most technically challenging—version of 5G known as millimeter wave.
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Viewed primarily as a U.S.-centric 5G variant, millimeter wave hasn’t been widely deployed yet, even in North America. It’s probably best known to consumers through Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband ads.
There is plenty of skepticism surrounding the technology. While millimeter wave frequencies offer fast speeds and massive bandwidth, they don’t travel very far. They typically can’t penetrate buildings, and they require dense antenna deployments, beam-forming and other advanced technologies to work well.
Most 5G networks today use primarily low- or mid-band airwave frequencies, which deliver far-reaching coverage but fall short of millimeter wave for speed and capacity. Verizon has probably been the most aggressive carrier to date in deploying millimeter wave 5G, and it is only available in a few neighborhoods in roughly 70 cities.
But Qualcomm said Monday more than 40 key carriers and equipment makers in China, Europe, India, Japan, North America, South Korea and Southeast Asia have committed to rolling out millimeter wave 5G.