Qualcomm SVP of engineering Durga Malladi maintained the bulk of commercial 5G handset launches will come in 2019, but revealed in an interview with The Economic Times (ET) some smartphone vendors are aiming to push rollouts forward into 2018.
While “almost all the OEMs are preparing for [launches in] 2019,” Malladi noted “depending upon the region, some of them are more aggressive than that and they would like to do that in late 2018 itself.”
In February, the company revealed 19 OEMs committed to use its X50 modem in 5G mobile device launches scheduled for 2019. But Malladi told ET earlier device debuts are being driven by operator efforts in certain markets to deploy 5G as soon as this year. Qualcomm is “doing everything we can” to support manufacturers which want to accelerate their 5G launch timelines to coincide with operator deployments, he added.
The efforts include offering multiband modems compatible with the myriad spectrum bands earmarked for 5G across the globe, including sub-6GHz frequencies and mmWave, he said: “From our standpoint, we are supporting all of those bands, I mean everything that is needed in the right time frame for the launches that are coming up.”
Malladi noted operators are still making network decisions which will impact the speeds offered on 5G handsets. Though everything under consideration would result in gigabit speeds, Malladi explained the range could be anywhere from 1Gb/s to 4.5Gb/s.
In addition to smartphones, he added Qualcomm is also aiming to support development of 5G tablets and laptops.
Though Malladi didn’t specify what regions might be the first to receive next generation devices, a handful of US operators are eyeing 5G rollouts in 2018.
AT&T promised to launch mobile 5G in 12 cities this year, though it said it would initially roll out the technology using a device it named a Puck rather than handsets. This is thought to be some sort of portable access point.