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MWC: Qualcomm debuts modem-to-antenna tech

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At Mobile World Congress last week, Qualcomm Technologies, announced that the entire Qualcomm RF Front End (RFFE) modem-to-antenna solution and the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform with X20 Gigabit LTE, and 4K HDR video capture, are featured in Sony Mobile’s Xperia XZ2 smartphone. 

Qualcomm Technologies is the first company in the semiconductor industry to deliver a comprehensive solution from modem to antenna ports for use in a leading premium smartphone. Utilizing Qualcomm Technologies’ comprehensive solution – including for the first time, the entire Qualcomm RFFE suite – allows Sony Mobile to benefit from system level optimization which facilitates the delivery of global platforms with superior connectivity performance and power efficiency.

The Qualcomm RFFE solution harnesses radio complexity and simplifies the implementation of global Gigabit LTE in mobile devices with a system-level design spanning a suite of RFFE products that utilize modem intelligence and are tightly integrated in a set of comprehensive global RF front end modules. It also helps OEMs to provide superior RF performance and power efficiency to support high data rates in real world networks.

Qualcomm Technologies’ modem-to-antenna solution comprises a suite of RFFE components including:

  • Power Amplifier Modules including Duplexers (PAMiDs). The QPM2621, QPM2632 and QPM2643 PAMiDs support the global low, mid and high bands respectively and integrate our suite of PAs, duplexers/filters including SAW, TC-SAW and BAW technologies, switches and an antenna coupler.
  • QET4100 Envelope Tracker (ET). The envelope tracker utilizes modem intelligence to dynamically adjust the voltage supplied to the radio frequency (RF) amplifier to support peak operating efficiency thereby reducing power consumption and heat.
  • Advanced Antenna Tuning. QAT3550 Impedance Tuner provide advanced adaptive antenna tuning. This technology utilizes modem intelligence to dynamically optimize the antenna match with the active transmit and receive frequencies to mitigate signal degradation from hand blocking, metal back designs and other effects, and is designed to improve throughput, call reliability and reduced power/battery consumption.
  • QDM3620, QDM3630, QDM3640 Diversity Receive Modules. These diversity receive modules combine our switches, BAW and SAW filters and low-noise amplifiers into a highly integrated module that is a user-friendly solution for implementing high-order MIMO and diversity receive paths for global LTE Advanced and Gigabit LTE architectures.

The QPM2621, QPM2632, QPM2643 PAMiDs, QAT3550 antenna impedance tuner, and QDM3620, QDM3630, QDM3640 diversity receive modules are supported for use with the Snapdragon X20 LTE modem and Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform.

“With the proliferation of 4G frequencies and devices, coupled with 5G devices coming soon, OEMs and operators will be challenged to deliver high-quality user experiences while considering cost- and time-efficiency in developing mobile devices that work around the globe on a variety of networks,” said Christian Block, senior vice president and general manager, Qualcomm’s RF front end business unit. “Sony Mobile’s integration of Qualcomm Technologies’ RFFE modem-to-antenna solution showcases how Qualcomm Technologies works with customers to provide the tools they need to create new devices that can address the requirements and opportunities offered by Gigabit LTE and future 5G networks.”

With increasingly crowded networks, operators are challenged to bring maximum coverage and advanced features to users. Qualcomm RFFE modem-to-antenna solution is engineered to help operators maximize the use of all licensed, shared and unlicensed spectrum assets while delivering superior network coverage, device performance and worldwide roaming. With this solution, device OEMs can scale their products globally with support of hundreds of carrier aggregation and 4×4 MIMO combinations delivering connection speeds up to 1.2 Gigabit per second LTE.

“We are pleased to work closely with Qualcomm Technologies as we continue to introduce innovative smartphones,” said Izumi Kawanishi, director, executive vice president, product business group, Sony Mobile Communications Inc. “Qualcomm Technologies’ enables excellent RF Front End performance across low, mid and high bands, and its comprehensive tightly integrated modem-RFFE interaction, provides the system level optimization we need to deliver the best-in-class mobile experience our customers expect.”

As the radio environment becomes more complex, a well-designed, advanced RFFE system is critical to the mobile experiences end-users demand from their devices and to prepare for the launch of 5G devices. Qualcomm Technologies’ comprehensive modem-to-antenna solutions are optimized to support exceptional connection reliability, blazing-fast data speeds, superior indoor/outdoor coverage, world roaming capability and long battery life.

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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