Intel 5G Modem Chips to not appear in phones Until 2020, Should Apple Be Worried?

Intel 5G

Intel said on Friday that its 5G modem will not appear in devices until 2020, suggesting the possibility of one of its biggest customers, Apple, to lag behind in terms of offering faster network speed.

Sandra Rivera, who is responsible for overseeing Intel’s networking chip business, said at a media event in Palo Alto, California, that sample 5G modems will be shipping to customers this year but the company does not expect to launch consumer “products in the market” until 2020.

Although Intel has said that its 5G modem chip will appear in the market this year, it never mentions when the product will be arriving for consumers. According to Rivera, non-consumer 5G products, such as networking gear, will be coming to the markets later this year.

It was not clear if Intel’s timing on delivering consumer-ready 5G modems by 2020 will affect Apple’s plan of launching 5G enabled smartphones in 2019. Bloomberg has reported that Apple won’t be releasing a 5G smartphone until 2020.

Apple executives have held talks with Samsung and MediaTek for providing 5G modem chips for iPhones to be released this year, nevertheless, the outcome of those talks are still unknown.

Reuters reported on February 7 that Apple, earlier this year, moved its modem engineering unit into the same division that makes its proprietary processor chips.

Apple is currently Intel’s major modem chip customer, however, Intel chief Bob Swan has said that the company is planning to pursue other lines of business, such as selling modems to carmakers.

He also adds that Intel modems could appear in a range of other devices, such as network gear, alongside Intel’s computing chips as 5G networks proliferate. Intel executives, however, refused to comment if the company would combine its modem and processors into a single chip the way its rival Qualcomm has done.

Swan said Intel does not plan to generate patent licensing revenue through its 5G modems as Qualcomm does.

“Our model relative to other California-based players is just completely different,” Swan said. “Ours is not a licensing-based model.

“Royalty streams that are charged against the cost of the entire device, that’s a model that as you know has caused quite a bit of friction in the market,” Swan continued referencing Qualcomm’s legal battle with Apple over its patent practices. “Friction for others is an opportunity for us.”

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