As Qualcomm reportedly prepares for a high-stakes meeting with hostile suitor Broadcom, the leading maker of smartphone modems is predicting 2 Gbps download speeds for smartphones this year. Qualcomm says it is sampling its eighth generation LTE modem, the Snapdragon X24, and will demonstrate the chip at Mobile World Congress in partnership with Ericsson, Telstra and NETGEAR.

“We’re pushing the boundaries of technology and providing unprecedented advances in LTE evolution by breaking the 2Gbps-barrier with our partners,” said Ericsson’s Joakim Sorelius, head of product area networks. “This technology advancement will enable even higher network capacity, and hence faster mobile broadband speeds for even more people.”

“The Snapdragon X24 LTE modem sets a major mobile industry milestone, designed to provide enhanced mobile broadband and deliver an extremely important gigabit coverage layer for commercial 5G networks and mobile devices that are expected to start launching in 2019,” said Qualcomm’s Serge Willenegger, SVP and GM, 4G/5G and Industrial IOT. “It will allow us to basically offer continuity of service between 4G LTE and 5G as the 5G systems are being launched.”

Qualcomm is predicting that commercial devices featuring the X24 will be available this year, despite reports that its largest customer may abandon its modems altogether. That could create an opportunity for other smartphone makers to differentiate their devices with the Snapdragon X24, but to do that they will need to build products that can support what the chip has to offer, including massive MIMO, carrier aggregation, 256-QAM and license-assisted access.

“It will be challenging for smartphone OEMs to design handsets that can support so many bands and antennas,” said David McQueen, research director at ABI Research. “If the market is to truly embrace the X24 then major smartphone vendors will need to be onboard quickly. While failure to do so will leave some OEMs trailing the market, this could create a marked slowdown in the smartphone replacement cycle as users endure a lengthy delay for model upgrades with X24, or else they hold-fire altogether and await the advent of 5G.”

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