Inside The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show
Steven Mollenkopf, chief executive officer of Qualcomm Inc., speaks during an event at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016.  Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

This Company Is Delivering the First Gigabit Cell Phone Chip

Feb 11, 2016

The new gigabit cell phone chip can process a billion bits of data a second. That's nearly par with standard wired services and far faster than the average maximum download speeds most U.S. carriers offer today.

Qualcomm (qcom) is going to make that happen, reported the Wall Street Journal. The biggest maker of mobile-phone chips announced its newest Snapdragon X16 modem chip Thursday, which will allow download speeds of 1 gigabit per second and upload speeds of 150 megabits per second. That's two-thirds faster than previous top download speeds of 600 megabits per second on its other chips.

At those high speeds, Qualcomm's new chip nearly matches the speed of advanced fiber-optic networks. Standard 5 Ethernet cabling used in office buildings typically runs at speeds of either 1 gigabit per second or 100 megabits per second.

However, most cell phone users won't be able to access those top speeds anytime soon since U.S. carriers typically can't handle the data deluge. Only one carrier, located in Australian, can even handle the 600 megabits per second top speed of Qualcomm's previous high-end chip, reported the WSJ.

Qualcomm's head of its chip business, executive vice president Cristiano Amon, called it "an important step towards 5G," which is expected to replace LTE technology in the next five years.

Some analysts see Qualcomm's high-speed chip as a play for more than cell phones, which has been a lagging business as of late for the company. It could be used instead for services like high-speed Internet access without the need for any cables, Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told the WSJ.

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