Bringing 5G networking to mobile devices hasn’t been an easy process. First, stakeholders need to agree to a standard, then new modems need to be developed. Qualcomm recently cleared one of the most significant hurdles in the development process with the announcement of its new QTM052 mmWave antenna modules, the first that that will enable the high-speed swath of networking spectrum to work with mobile phones, according to The Verge.
The issue. Unlike current networking protocols, 5G operates on the mmWave portion of the spectrum. While this location offers dramatically faster speeds, it also transmits at a much shorter range. Even more upsetting, the signal is easily blocked by everyday structures such as doors and walls.
Qualcomm believes it has figured out a way to remove these barriers. In the QTM052 is a small antenna array, about the size of a penny, that offers four antennas that can accurately point to the nearest 5G tower.
The Verge explains:
It can even bounce signals off of surrounding surfaces. The QTM052 is designed to be small enough that device manufacturers will be able to embed it into the bezel of a phone. Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem is already designed to support up to four of the antenna arrays, one for each side of the phone, allowing for 16 total antennas and ensuring that no matter how you hold your phone, the signal won’t get blocked.
Assuming Qualcomm finds success outside of the lab, this is undoubtedly a big deal. The company says the first devices with QTM052 antennas will launch at the beginning of next year. All that’s needed now are 5G networks that can communicate with the antennas. Luckily, all of the major U.S. carriers are working on 5G development this year, including T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon.