Someday, our smartphones will slurp up data on a 5G cellular network. That 5G term, mind you, is marketing-speak for a next-gen cell system that could hypothetically give us blazing fast data speeds—like in the neighborhood of a gigabit per second. At least that’s the idea.
One way of making those fast speeds a reality is a technology called millimeter wave—radio waves that, you guessed it, have wavelengths measured in millimeters and have very high frequencies, like 30 gigahertz and higher. Those frequencies are much faster than the signals cell phones commonly use now.
Of course, we’ll need cell towers to broadcast these waves in the first place, but even then, your cell phone won’t be able to take advantage of them unless it has the right antennas. In the old days, you couldn’t listen to FM radio without, well, an FM radio and antenna, and the same goes for these tiny little radio waves.
Enter Qualcomm, which has just announced an important development: It has built diminutive antenna modules that are small enough to fit in modern smartphones and are designed to receive and transmit those millimeter waves.