(Pocket-lint) - Qualcomm has announced the world's first 5G modem for smartphones, called the Snapdragon X50. The new chip is capable of download speeds of up to 5Gbps, which is crazily fast and nearly 400 times faster than the current average 4G download speed of 13.5mbps. The company has even said phones could theoretically access saved files in the cloud faster than from the phone's internal flash storage.

Qualcomm has said it plans to send samples of the new chip to smartphone manufacturers by the of next year, and they should start appearing on the market in 2018.

But to take full advantage of the faster download speeds, mobile network providers need to install new 5G infrastructure. 5G works on the millimetre wave spectrum in the 28GHz band, but signal waves can't be sent over long distances or travel through walls.

It means that instead of installing a few mobile network masts like the ones you see on top of tall buildings for coverage, several small-cell base stations will need to be installed, which will take some time.

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It's likely we won't see 5G take off in the UK until at least 2020, but South Korean network operator KT says it will launch the first 5G network in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Writing by Max Langridge.