How Qualcomm's New Modem Could Make Wi-Fi Faster Than Fiber

It’s still a way off, though

Key Takeaways

  • Qualcomm has unveiled a new reference design for its X65 and X62 modems, which will allow manufacturers to easily install the components in their own hardware.
  • The new modem uses M.2 to utilize a plug-and-play format, which can reach up to 10-gigabit internet speeds.
  • While the modem is still a ways off, early advances could help increase wireless internet offerings’ overall speed and reliability.
Illustration of Wi-Fi icons connected by fibers.

Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

As internet service providers struggle to meet the growing demand for fiber, a new modem design from Qualcomm could bring wireless connections with the capability of reaching faster-than-fiber speeds.

While the work to bring faster internet speeds to consumers worldwide is still ongoing, there’s more to getting those fast speeds than just laying down new wire or infrastructure. In fact, the work being put into expanding fiber and 5G capability is useless without the proper technology to translate those networks into reliable connections for users.

We’re a long way from the full realization of what 5G can be, but tech like Qualcomm’s 10-gigabit 5G modem could help make all the difference in pushing wireless connectivity forward even more.

"The speed of your internet connection depends on many different factors. It's more than just the speeds your ISP offers—and there are even variables in that," Rex Freiberger, a tech expert and CEO of GadgetReview, explained in an email. "A modem or router with more processing power is able to better handle a strong signal."

Untethered Connection

Qualcomm initially revealed the X65, its 10-gigabit 5G modem, in February. Now, though, the company has announced a new reference design that utilizes M.2 architecture, which should make it easier for manufacturers to implement the more powerful modem in laptops and other smart devices.

This tech is so notable, though, because that 10-gigabit speed limit puts the X65 at the same level as the connections offered by Ethernet and wired internet solutions.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon X65 5G chip.

Qualcomm

Right now, getting wireless internet connections that are as fast as wired is difficult. Wi-Fi 6 opens the door for speeds of up to 9.6 gigabits, but that still isn’t reachable in a lot of cases. That's due to the current limitations on internet frequencies and the interruptions they can experience due to other electronic devices in your home.

Then there’s the entire ordeal of having a home internet connection based on wired connectivity like fiber. While ISPs like AT&T and Google are slowly rolling out more access for their fiber networks, there's still a lot of ground to cover. Ground that also can be covered by 5G internet options. 

This is where tech like the X65 comes into play. Because it’s built for 5G, laptop manufacturers can use it to equip laptops and other personal smart devices to connect to more powerful 5G networks as they continue to roll out. This expands where and how consumers can connect, allowing them to make the most of their laptop’s wireless connection.

A Long Way Off

While the plug-and-play nature of the X65 is important—and worth noting—the current climate of wireless and wired internet connections isn’t up to speed just yet.

That doesn’t change the importance of this achievement, though. With a plug-and-play model, Qualcomm is opening the door for easier integration of tech that supports faster and more reliable internet speeds. 

"The speed of your internet connection depends on many different factors. It's more than just the speeds your ISP offers—and there are even variables in that."

Instead of forcing manufacturers to design entire systems around incorporating the modem, the M.2 connectors will allow the X65 to be slotted into existing hardware designs. This makes it much simpler for companies to adopt the tech by removing the barriers that may currently hold those devices back.

In the long run, this could lead to more devices, including similar technology, enabling even more users to connect to the internet wherever they are.

Sure, the chances of carriers offering the kinds of speeds that the X65 is capable of any time soon are slim. In fact, Google only recently started expanding its 2-gigabit service to some of the areas where that wired fiber service is available.

But, the fact that Qualcomm already has managed to create technology capable of breaking through those speed barriers means that when we finally get to the point where 10-gigabit internet is viable, the tech probably will have advanced even more.

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