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(Pocket-lint) - Qualcomm expects faster 5G networks to start being rolled out in Europe this year.

Unlike the US, all four UK networks are rolling out so-called "sub-6" 5G, which refers to the wavebands used. These low and medium-band 5G frequencies are great for coverage but aren't so good for speed.

mmWave networks (standing for millimetre wave) are the reverse - great for speed but not so good for range. mmWaves can't pass through obstacles but they're the best option for dense city 5G networks. 

Speaking at a Qualcomm briefing after the cancellation of Mobile World Congress, Ben Timmons, Qualcomm's senior European business development director, said that he expects networks to start to roll out of mmWave in 2020. 

"We expect to see a lot of activity on mmWave, not just in Europe but around the world this year."

"It's unusual for the UK to be one of the leading markets but here we are. There's lots and lots of stuff going on. The fact that [US network] Verizon would open a 5G lab in London shows there's an enormous amount of development. There's a tremendous amount happening in Europe and a real determination to develop 5G technologies [here]."

Qualcomm has already experimented with mmWave in the UK at its lab in Farnborough. 

Because mmWave can even be blocked by your body, Qualcomm has had to make mmWave-supporting phone hardware able to rapidly switch antennae.

Qualcomm expects Standalone Mode (SA) capabilities to start rolling out in 2021 in Europe. This will enable European networks to make use of the full set of 5G features.  

"[There will be] an enormous amount of SA activity in Europe this year" added Timmons. 

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Writing by Dan Grabham. Originally published on 28 February 2020.