Intel executives said on Friday its 5G modem chips will not appear in mobile phones until 2020, meaning that Apple will be more than a year behind rivals in delivering a device that uses the 5G networks.
Sandra Rivera, who oversees Intel’s networking chip business, said at a media event in Palo Alto, California, that sample 5G modem chips will ship to customers this year but that Intel does not expect consumer “products in the market” until 2020.
Rivera said non-consumer 5G products, such as networking gear, will appear later this year.
Apple has been rumored to delay the launch of a 5G iPhone.
Apple executives have held talks with Samsung Electronics and MediaTek over 5G modem chips for iPhones to be released this year, but the outcome of those talks is unknown.
Reuters reported earlier this month that Apple has moved its modem engineering efforts into the same division that makes its proprietary processor chips.
Last November, Intel announced a decision to pull in the launch of its XMM 8160 5G modem by half a year in order to "deliver a leading 5G solution." This automatically meant that Intel's first 5G chip, the XMM 8060, was not be able to match the earliest efforts of top competitor Qualcomm. Intel had previously promised that it would release its first 5G modem — the XMM 8060 — in mid-2019.
Intel Chief Executive Bob Swan said the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker plans to pursue other lines of business, such as selling modems to carmakers.
He also said that modems could appear in a range of other devices, such as network gear, alongside Intel’s computing chips as 5G networks proliferate.
Swan said Intel did not plan to generate patent licensing revenue from its 5G technology like Qualcomm does.
“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, alluding to Qualcomm’s legal battles with Apple and other phone makers over the San Diego firm’s patent practices. “Friction for others is opportunity for us.”