For Qualcomm Inc., the largest maker of chips that run smartphones, 5G can’t come soon enough.
The chipmaker introduced Tuesday a new chip that will connect to fifth-generation high-speed data services. It’s the company’s second such component and will bring faster downloads of information and speedier connections with existing networks. The X55 modem will start to appear in devices by late 2019, Qualcomm said in a statement.
The San Diego-based company was among the biggest beneficiaries of the shifts to previous generations of mobile phone technology when its chips became the market leader. In the decade since 4G began, smartphone sales have slowed given incremental improvements in form and function. That has hurt Qualcomm’s growth as the company is facing more competition and legal disputes with customers, most notably Apple Inc., which no longer uses its products.
Qualcomm is also keen to avoid a repeat of 4G’s slow start. When phones first appeared with that technology, they were bigger and had worse battery life than existing 3G phones. X55 combines several components into one piece of silicon which will help keep phones slim.
The company is also introducing antenna technology and capabilities that manage power and the way the phone works in weaker signal environments to make sure that the new handsets live up to the promise of 5G higher data speeds. The new product will enable download speeds as fast as 7 gigabits per second, which is far in excess of that offered by most fixed-line home connections.
Qualcomm made the announcements ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the industry’s annual showcase for wireless technology. Qualcomm competes with Intel Corp. and Taiwan’s Mediatek Inc. in the market for modems, chips that help convert radio signals into voice and data.