Qualcomm Promises to Fix Global LTE Mess with RF Solution
Qualcomm today announced the RF360 Front End Solution, a series of components pieced together that should, as Qualcomm claims, solve the global LTE roaming problem. The RF360 is made of several parts: a power envelope tracker, a dynamic antenna tuner, a power amplifier, and an RF (radio frequency) transceiver. The most significant piece of the package is the RF transceiver chip, which Qualcomm calls the WTR1625L. This new transceiver uses Qualcomm's Gobi software-defined radio and can handle all the 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE cellular modes and frequencies used around the world (which numbers about 40) in a single radio. In the U.S. alone, there are at least four different frequency bands used by carriers for LTE. In Europe, there are over a dozen. These disparate bands force phone makers to offer several different variants of their devices in order to be compatible with the LTE frequencies used worldwide. If phone makers choose the RF360 Front End Solution, they will be able to make one version of their device that is compatible most networks. Beyond the RF transceiver, the RF360 is among the first to include a power envelope tracker, which will offer significant gains in battery life. The tracker lets the modem and radio amplifier communicate faster, allowing them to adjust input voltage dynamically based on the strength of the signal it needs to transmit. This will allow the amplifier to fine-tune its power needs on the fly, thereby reducing power consumption. Qualcomm expects devices with the RF360 to reach the market during the second half of the year.