Qualcomm plans to bring gigabit data speeds to your car

But it will be a while yet before real-world drivers get to enjoy it.

Remember last year, when Qualcomm pulled back the curtain on its X16 LTE modem? At the time, the chipmaker touted peak download speeds of up to 1Gbps for smartphones, even though gigabit speeds were (and are) basically impossible to experience in the wild. Still, the age of super high-speed wireless data is fast approaching, which is why Qualcomm just announced that it's bringing that X16 modem to cars. It will be a while before you get to torrent movies in a flash from the comfort of your Chevy, though: The modem is baked into a new module reference design that carmakers will likely adopt further down the line.

A lot of signal processing and multiple antennas are required to make this high-speed system work properly, and looking at the modem's implementation in smartphones offers more insight into how it will all work. The modem can connect to 10 LTE data streams from multiple aggregated carrier signals. In other words, it pulls down data through lots of different channels and smartly reassembles it all right in the nick of time. Lots of bandwidth means more than just an easier time streaming episodes of The Crown on road trips too: We're also looking at faster map updates for built-in navigation systems, for example, not to mention quicker access to information about road conditions and weather.

And let's not forget all the sensors that are in your car (or will be in your next one). Qualcomm is pushing for a way to mash up its data and interpret it to help with more-precise mapping and car-fleet management. That collected data can do plenty of good strictly within the car itself thanks to Qualcomm's Drive Data platform, but companies can build applications that use that information if it gets relayed via wireless connections. Move aside, smartphones: The combination of high-speed data and machine learning could well lead to a new generation of killer apps for your car.

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