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How 5G Drove Moves By Apple, Qualcomm And Intel

Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday settled an acrimonious two-year legal dispute. Shortly afterward, Intel Corp said it will exit the smartphone modem chip business.

The entire drama played out as the mobile phone industry prepares to shift to a technology called 5G.

Echoing complaints from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Apple had alleged that Qualcomm used its patent licensing business to keep a monopoly on modem chips that connect devices like the iPhone to wireless data networks. Qualcomm insisted that Apple was using its valuable technology without proper payment, and Apple later dropped Qualcomm’s chips in favor of those from Intel.

In the end, Apple and Qualcomm ceased all litigation, with Apple signing a six-year licensing deal with Qualcomm and also agreeing to buy Qualcomm chips. Hours later, Intel said it was getting out of the modem chip business.

What is 5G?

5G is a new network technology for wireless communications that could be up to 100 times faster than current 4G networks. The networks are coming on line in the United States, China, South Korea and other places this year, but probably will not be widespread until 2020. Modem chips connect devices like phones to these networks.

Who are the players in 5G?

Prior to Tuesday, five companies had disclosed 5G modem chips or plans to make them: Qualcomm, Intel, MediaTek Inc, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Samsung and Huawei, however, only make chips for their own mobile phones.

Why does Apple Care About 5G?

Some of Apple’s rivals in the smartphone market – notably Samsung – plan to release 5G devices this year, which could put pressure on Apple to match the feature. Many carriers that are investing heavily to build 5G networks are also likely to put their marketing efforts behind 5G phones.

Will Apple have a 5G phone this year?

It would require an extraordinary effort from both companies. New modems take months of testing to ensure phones will work on carrier networks. Under traditional timelines, Apple would have needed to start testing a 5G iPhone last year, but its supplier Intel did not have a chip ready.―Reuters

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