Qualcomm's simulated 5G tests show a 20x increase in download speeds over 4G

Qualcomm logo during CES 2018
Qualcomm logo during CES 2018 (Image credit: Android Central)

Qualcomm is touting up its advances in the field of 5G, announcing last week that its upcoming 5G-enabled chipset will be built on Samsung's 7nm node. At Mobile World Congress, Qualcomm is demonstrating the real-world potential of 5G by sharing findings of extensive network simulations it has conducted over the past several months.

Qualcomm conducted two simulations, one in Frankfurt and the other in San Francisco, leveraging existing cell sites in both locations. The Frankfurt simulation modeled a Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G NR network "operating on 100 MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, with an underlying Gigabit LTE network operating across 5 LTE spectrum bands." The California test, meanwhile, modeled a hypothetical NSA 5G NR network "operating in 800 MHz of 28 GHz mmWave spectrum, with an underlying Gigabit LTE network operating across 4 licensed LTE spectrum bands plus License Assisted Access (LAA) bands."

Qualcomm is quoting heady increases in download speeds from the simulated test in Frankfurt, recording a massive 900% uptick over 4G, 12x increase in speeds for the "10th percentile" user, and a median streaming quality of 8K. Average download latency was also significantly reduced, from 116ms to 17ms:

  • Browsing download speeds increasing from 56 Mbps for the median 4G user to more than 490 Mbps for the median 5G user, a gain of approximately 900 percent
  • Approximately 7x faster responsiveness, with median browsing download latency reduced from 116ms to 17ms
  • File download speeds of 100 Mbps for the 10th percentile 5G user, meaning that 90 percent of 5G users have download speeds of more than 100 Mbps. This is compared to 8 Mbps for the 10th percentile LTE user. .- Median streaming video quality increasing from 2K/30 FPS/8-bit color for LTE users to 8K/120 FPS/10-bit color and beyond for 5G users.

The test in San Francisco yielded even better results, with Qualcomm noting a median download speed of a staggering 1.4Gbps, an uptick of 2000% from 4G. The rest of the statistics followed in the same vein:

  • Browsing download speeds increasing from 71 Mbps for the median 4G user to 1.4 Gbps for the median 5G user in mmWave coverage, a gain of approximately 2000 percent
  • Approximately 23x faster responsiveness, with median browsing download latency reduced from 115ms to 4.9ms
  • File download speeds of more than 186 Mbps for 90 percent of 5G users, compared to 10 Mbps for LTE, a 1,826 percent gain. The median 5G file download speed was 442 Mbps.
  • Median streaming video quality increasing from 2K/30 FPS/8-bit color for LTE users to 8K/120 FPS/10-bit color and beyond for 5G users.

With the simulated tests, Qualcomm is showing just how fast 5G is in real-world usage scenarios. Thus far, we've only seen metrics from controlled tests in labs, so the real-world simulations give us an early look at the 5G's potential.

Qualcomm is working with 18 global operators to conduct 5G trials, and the vendor noted that over 20 leading device makers are turning to the Snapdragon X50 5G modem for their devices. With median download speeds surging over 1,000% from 4G, Qualcomm is envisaging a "whole host of new services and experiences" beyond browsing, downloading, and streaming.

The first wave of consumer products with Qualcomm's 5G modem will be making their debut in the first half of 2019. Until then, we'll have to make do with the X24 modem, which tops out at just 2Gbps.

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

  • I have a feeling it is going to be a decade or more before I actually see any of these improvements
    Unless I decide to move to a big city, then I might actually see some increased speeds
  • I'd rather see phones start coming out later this year with the X50 5G modem. IF I update this year, I would have no plans on updating again next year, nor the year after. Bring on 5G.
  • Don't look at 5G so narrowly as only a mobile phone technology. 5G networks will be used by cable and internet service providers too.... And as a solution to rural high speed internet service.  A great deal of the cost of building a network is the last 1,000 feet. FiOS costs Verizon about $700 to $1,000 per home, but small cells lowers that cost to $100 to $200 per home. And totally agree with the earlier comment... Smartphone manufacturers should get the 5G capable modems in their phones asap, or else buyers will wait and phone sales will collapse. Like any business, smart phone manufacturers want your dollar today. The first company that can market a 5G compatible phone will have a huge advantage on picking up mobile consumers who need a phone immediately. The majority of my mobile online use is through my home WiFi network broadcast from cable. Wifi
    Ping: 17 ms Download: 94.74 Mbps Upload: 16.91 Mbps Mobile Only
    Ping: 44 ms Download: 65.74 Mbps Upload: 6.32 Mbps
  • People still switch phones fairly regularly. 5G in a phone won't be a big sell point as long as you can't use it.
  • Yeah, this will be great for rural customers, so long as they don't gouge you on data caps. Charge (not cost) per GB is significantly higher for cellular than it is for landlines. Even though mobile networks have less infrastructure, they charge way more for access. Historically, I think that's been tied to keeping traffic down on the towers. But if 5G can truly handle way more load, they may take it easy on users, at least for home routers. But probably not, lol
  • Data caps are going to keep increasing. A reasonable data cap of 1 TB per month right now, will not be so reasonable next year with all the streaming going on. The industry is rapidly transforming, a lot of businesses are about to get left out when 5G networks are built up by the telcos. I can't wait for the competition to landlines by Comcast and AT&T which is the only thing I have available. Here in the US they allow companies to have monopolies over specific areas, it's very frustrating.