Skip to main content

Intel gives up on 5G modems for smartphones, will focus on other devices

Intel has killed off any plans it had for producing 5G mobile modems, as detailed in a press release sent out on Tuesday, April 16. Instead of looking further into making 5G modems, Intel will instead be focusing its efforts on other avenues in the 5G space, like infrastructure and modems for other devices, including laptops, PCs, connected smart devices, and similar non-smartphone devices.

Despite professing excitement in the “cloudification” of networks allowed by 5G, Intel CEO Bob Swan blames the lack of a “clear path to profitability and positive returns” within the smartphone modem market as the reason for Intel’s sudden exit. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property,” Swan continues. “We are assessing our options to realize the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

However, it’s worth pointing out that other factors may have swayed Intel’s hand. Namely, the settlement in the long-running legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm. The same day saw the two companies announce the end of their legendary battle with a six-year settlement that will see Apple rely on Qualcomm for more of its hardware. Most notably, this will mean Apple has more options where 5G is concerned.

Intel had previously supplied the modems for the entire range of 2018 iPhones, and it was rumored Intel’s modems would power 5G connectivity in 2020’s iPhones. However, Intel’s delay on 5G modems means Apple would be far behind in 5G compared to competitors, putting the company at a severe disadvantage. Having the ability to instead buy 5G modems from Qualcomm, who has already created a working 5G modem, would be a large boost for Apple. Not that Apple should overly worry about 5G connectivity though — a survey from the start of 2019 showed that most Americans thought Apple was leading the way in 5G, despite not having any 5G-capable hardware.

Viewed in this light, it could be assumed Intel is folding at the sight of Qualcomm’s significantly stronger hand. However, it’s worth pointing out that while Qualcomm now holds something of a monopoly in the U.S., it’s far from the only player in the game, with Mediatek and Huawei producing their own modems. The practical birth of 5G also only just happened, with Verizon recently turning on its 5G network in a handful of U.S. cities, so it all remains an open field.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Jansen
Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
Netgear’s new M6 Pro router lets you use fast 5G anywhere you go
Netgear M6 Pro Mobile Hotspot.

Netgear has unveiled its Nighthawk M6 Pro Mobile Hotspot Router, the most advanced mobile hotspot yet. The new portable router features the latest and fastest 5G and Wi-Fi technologies, delivering unprecedented range and performance for a wireless hotspot.

As the “Pro” moniker implies, the new mobile router is an enhanced version of the previously announced M6 hotspot, adding support for connecting to extremely high frequency (EHF) mmWave 5G service and supporting Wi-Fi 6E on the client side to ensure that laptops, smartphones, and tablets can take advantage of that peak performance, even in the busiest places.
A mobile router for urban life

Read more
Live in a rural area? Verizon 5G is about to get better for you
Verizon store front displays the 5G network in NYC.

Verizon plans to expand its faster 5G Ultra Wideband network to reach beyond urban and suburban centers later this year, helping to drive up performance for folks in rural areas and spearhead the growth of its fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband services.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestburg touched on these details this week in the company’s quarterly earnings call, where he lauded the rapid expansion of the carrier’s C-band coverage to reach 200 million people in just over a year “since we lit up the first site.”

Read more
T-Mobile’s 5G is still unmatched — but have speeds plateaued?
Woman holding up smartphone with speed test results on Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband network.

Each time a new analysis of mobile network performance gets published, it’s almost a given that we’ll see T-Mobile leading the pack in terms of delivering the fastest 5G speeds. After all, the “Un-carrier” had a massive lead in deploying its 5G networks — and it hasn’t been resting on its laurels.

However, its competitors haven’t been sitting still either. While Verizon may have been starting from behind, it’s been aggressively deploying the faster 5G spectrum that gave it a nice leap in 5G performance last year. Still, Verizon and AT&T are lagging quite a bit in overall mobile network performance, and AT&T has fallen even farther behind when it comes to delivering the best 5G speeds across the nation.

Read more