CES is an increasingly common place for cellular industry news, but Mobile World Congress remains the dominant conference for wireless applications. What should you expect to hear announced there? Glad you asked.
The early January Las Vegas-based Consumer Electronics Show is becoming an increasingly common place for cellular industry-targeting chip, software, and systems companies to ply their newest wares. Yet the late February Barcelona-based Mobile World Congress (MWC) show remains the dominant conference for wireless applications. This year's event takes place next week, February 22-25 to be exact. What should you expect to hear announced there? Glad you asked
LTE bandwidth improvements
4G LTE cellular data deployments are now pervasive worldwide; even low-end modern smartphones such as Motorola's (Lenovo's) first-generation Moto E and first- and second-generation G, which supported only 3G technologies, have been replaced by LTE-cognizant successors. However, LTE's implementation flexibility affords a steady stream of bandwidth improvements, assuming both the handset and carrier support them. Take LTE-A (LTE Advanced, specifically LTE Cat.4 and above, and also known as 4G+), for example, which employs techniques such as carrier aggregation (bundling multiple radio channels together) to boost transfer speeds. To-date adoption in the United States is limited, with more aggressive rollouts overseas; worldwide coverage is anticipated to steadily broaden in the coming years.
Carrier support means little without corresponding handset support, of course. 2014-era Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus handsets comprehended entry-level "150 Mbps" Cat.4 LTE-A, for example; last year's "S" successors handle the "300 Mbps" Cat.6 upgrade. A flurry of LTE-A hardware announcements is anticipated at MWC, both in the form of upgrades to prior-generation hardware that handled only baseline LTE, and updates that support faster LTE-A speeds. As another indicator of where smartphones and cellular data-supportive tablets may soon be headed, check out Qualcomm's latest announcement unveiled ahead of MWC last week. The Snapdragon X16 LTE modem and companion WTR5975 RF transceiver handle LTE-A all the way up to "1 Gbps" Cat.16, along with supporting channel bonding on both FDD and TDD LTE deployments for worldwide compatibility.
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