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Qualcomm Promises Faster Smartphone Download Speeds

New flagship smartphones due in the first half of 2016 will support faster 4G LTE speeds, thanks to a new Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

The Snapdragon 820 processor supports such capabilities as sending LTE data over Wi-Fi networks, including public Wi-Fi hot spots, when carrier networks are congested. Carriers Verizon and AT&T have said they would deploy the technology, called LTE-Unlicensed, over unlicensed Wi-Fi airwaves in 2016.

In networks supporting LTE-U, consumers “may experience a sudden boost in LTE speeds in areas that normally suffer from congestion,” Qualcomm said. The technology will also free up licensed-spectrum resources so that consumers without LTE-U phones will be able to download data faster as well, Qualcomm said.

LTE-U uses carrier aggregation to bond licensed LTE channels with unlicensed Wi-Fi channels.

LTE-U phones will automatically select between LTE and Wi-Fi depending on signal quality and speed. If a public W-Fi hot spot gets congested, the phone will switch back to the carrier’s network without dropping a call or data session.

The 820 chipset and integrated Qualcomm X12 LTE modem also supports other speed-boosting technologies. It is the first publicly announced mobile-device processor supporting LTE Category 12 downlink technology and LTE Category 13 uplink technology, allowing for peak download speeds of 600Mbps via three-channel carrier aggregation and peak upload speeds of 150Mbps with two-channel carrier aggregation, Qualcomm said.

 That compares with what’s available on such current flagship phones as the LG G4, which supports  Category 5 300/75Mbps peak downlink and uplink speeds; Samsung’s Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 4, whose Category 9 LTE supports peak 450/50Mbps downlink and uplink speeds; and the new  iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, which offers Category 5 300Mbps downlink speeds.

The Snapdragon 820 processor is also the first publicly announced processor to offer LTE support for 4×4 Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) technology, which doubles download throughput speeds on a single LTE channel.

Wi-Fi speeds: The chipset also accelerates Wi-Fi speeds compared with its predecessor.

Besides accelerating LTE speeds, the processor accelerates Wi-Fi speeds through multi-gigabit 802.11ad and 2×2 MU-MIMO for 801.11ac. The peak rate of 2×2 ac is up to 867Mbps, while the 11ad peak rate is up to 4.6Gbps.

“The high bandwidth and speeds offered by 11ac Wi-Fi, 11ad Wi-Fi, and MU-MIMO brings new-levels of performance designed to improve overall quality of service and enhance user experiences for applications such as streaming 4K video, doing peer-to-peer large file sharing, using media kiosks, docking wirelessly, hard disk backups and more,” the company said.

The X12 LTE modem also supports next-generation HD Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Video over LTE (ViLTE) calling services.