Nokia and Ericsson have already said they have operators covered for 600 MHz network equipment, and now it seems Qualcomm is stepping up with enabling technology on the handset side of things.
In a blog post last week, Qualcomm SVP of Product Management Jim Tran noted the company’s Snapdragon X20 LTE modem and RF transceiver include 600 MHz capability in their designs. Specifically, Tran indicated Qualcomm’s RF Front End offerings – including dynamic antenna tuning – are meant to offer manufacturers a way to extend a device’s frequency range without increasing antenna size or negatively impacting RF performance. Launched in February, the X20 is also capable of crossing the gigabit speed barrier. More on that here.
“In the evolution towards 5G, dynamic antenna tunability will be critical in accommodating the rapidly expanding frequency range of antennas in mobile devices while minimizing the impact on their form factors,” Tran said.
Qualcomm is reportedly collaborating with both operators and device manufacturers to enable “early launches of 600 MHz-capable 4G multimode/multiband devices,” but gave no hint as to dates.
That’s probably because it’s hard to say at this point when operators will finally get their hands on 600 MHz spectrum.
The FCC closed out its spectrum auction proceedings at the end of last month with the completion of its assignment phase. The agency is expected to release a list of winners and details about post-auction procedures sometime in the coming weeks.
However, while the FCC seems to be moving forward with its 39-month repacking schedule to move broadcasters and hand over newly-won 600 MHz spectrum to wireless operators, debate over the feasibility of that timeline continues to rage. Of course, the carriers have argued that 39 months is more than enough, but broadcast groups like the National Association of Broadcasters have pleaded for more time.
Last week, a number of sources from major telecom infrastructure companies voiced different opinions to Wireless Week at both TESSCO One and CCA’s Mobile Carriers Show. One source predicted repacking would be demand driven, with carriers who really need the spectrum getting it first, while another source said there’s not a large enough workforce on the ground to switch over the tower equipment that quickly.