Figure Caption: QTM052 antenna module, Snapdragon X50 5G modem and U.S. penny.

For 5G smartphones and other mobile devices, Qualcomm Technologies has developed integrated new radio (NR) modules for the 5G sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave (mmWave) bands, a milestone the company calls an industry first. Both the mmWave antenna module and sub-6 GHz module families are sampling to customers.

The Qualcomm® QPM56xx sub-6 GHz RF module family and QTM052 mmWave antenna module family pair with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem to deliver modem-to-antenna functionality across multiple 5G bands in a compact footprint suited for mobile devices.

Sub-6 GHz Modules

The QPM56xx module family — the QPM5650, QPM5651, QDM5650 and QDM5652 — works with the Snapdragon X50 5G modem to support the sub-6 GHz 5G NR bands.

The QPM5650 and QPM5651 integrate the power amplifier (PA), low noise amplifier (LNA), switch and filtering. For diversity and MIMO, the QDM5650 and QDM5652 integrate the LNA, switch and filtering. All four modules offer integrated sounding reference signal (SRS) switching, required for optimum massive MIMO applications, and support the 3.3 to 4.2 GHz (n77), 3.3 to 3.8 GHz (n78) and 4.4 to 5.0 GHz (n79) bands.

mmWave Antenna Modules

The QTM052 mmWave antenna modules also interface with the Snapdragon X50 5G modem to provide a comprehensive system that supports advanced beam forming, beam steering and beam tracking, which improve the range and reliability of mmWave links. The system comprises an integrated 5G NR radio transceiver, power management IC, RF front-end components and phased array antenna. The QTM052 handles up to 800 MHz bandwidth in the 26.5 to 29.5 GHz (n257) band and the entire 27.5 to 28.35 GHz (n261) and 37 to 40 GHz (n260) bands.

The QTM052 modules integrate these capabilities in a compact footprint, enabling four modules to fit in a smartphone. The small size allows phone manufacturers to incorporate the mmWave bands without sacrificing the attractive industrial designs of their mobile devices.

Qualcomm said availability of the mmWave modules will support smartphone launches as early as the first half of 2019.

Broad Coverage vs. Dense Environments

Qualcomm sees the sub-6 GHz bands used to provide broad 5G coverage, while the mmWave bands are best suited for providing 5G service in dense urban areas and crowded indoor environments.

However, mmWave signals have not been used for mobile wireless communications because of many technical and design challenges impacting nearly every aspect of device engineering: materials, form factor, industrial design, thermal management and regulatory requirements for radiated power. As such, Qualcomm said many in the mobile industry considered mmWave impractical for mobile devices and networks and unlikely to materialize.

“Today’s announcement of the first commercial 5G NR mmWave antenna modules and sub-6 GHz RF modules for smartphones and other mobile devices represents a major milestone for the mobile industry. Qualcomm Technologies’ early investment in 5G has allowed us to deliver to the industry a working mobile mmWave solution that was previously thought unattainable, as well as a fully-integrated sub-6 GHz RF solution. — Cristiano Amon, president of Qualcomm Incorporated.

Qualcomm Technologies is a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated.