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Intel promises gigabit speeds with new LTE modem for phones

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Gigabit LTE” is the next step in wireless internet speeds, and now Intel is ready to get in on the action. Intel is announcing a new modem, under the catchy name “XMM 7560,” that includes support for download speeds up to 1 Gbps and upload speeds up to 225 Mbps. The modem is supposed to be suitable for smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices.

Intel’s new modem ought to be faster than traditional LTE when connecting to networks that include support for advanced LTE features (like carrier aggregation). But exactly how fast it’ll get is something we’ll have to wait to find out.

Asha Keddy, VP of Intel’s mobile and communications group, says that using the XMM 7560, “we can get gigabit speeds in the real world.” But being capable of getting gigabit speeds and regularly getting gigabit speeds are two very different things. And chances are, no one’s actually going to see 1 Gbps downloads in daily use.

For comparison, Qualcomm told us that average speeds for its first gigabit LTE modem ranged from 112 Mbps to 307 Mbps — higher than typical LTE speeds, but far shy of a gigabit.

There are two other important important limitations here. For one, networks haven’t widely rolled out support for gigabit LTE modems yet, so phone hardware is going to be a little bit ahead of carrier support for a little while (though support is coming).

The other thing to keep in mind is that, right now, Intel modems aren’t very widely used — Qualcomm modems are in just about every major phone (some iPhones include Intel modems, but they’re seen as inferior). So while gigabit LTE is on the way, there’s a good chance that your first experience with it won’t be through Intel.

Mobile World Congress kicks off next week, and we already know at least one phone with gigabit LTE support is going to be there. Chances are, we’ll be seeing a few more this year.