5G starts with chips like IBM and Ericsson’s silicon antenna

A piece of silicon less than three inches across may speed up the arrival of 5G mobile networks in the next few years.

IBM Research and Ericsson have developed a compact antenna array that can aim high-frequency radio signals at mobile devices and shoot them farther than they otherwise could reach, the companies said. Silicon integration makes it thin and energy efficient so it’s more commercially viable.

Carriers expect 5G networks to deliver cellular data speeds in the gigabits per second, far faster than what today’s LTE services offer. They also expect benefits like less power consumption, lower latency and the ability to serve a lot more devices at the same time.

But before they build those networks, the carriers will need equipment that’s not too expensive to turn a profit for them. IBM and Ericsson say the 64-antenna package they’re announcing on Tuesday pushes 5G a long way toward commercial reality.

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