Intel is to transfer its 5G WWAN technology for PCs to two Chinese IC companies and exit 5G modem market by July
Chinese article by 姜羽桐
English Editor 张未名
03-27 17:52

By Gabby Chen

(JW Insights) Mar 26 -- Intel is set to exit the 5G modem market by July and will undertake a technology transfer of its 5G WWAN (wireless wire area network) for PCs to two Chinese IC companies - MediaTek(联发科) and IoT module vendor Fibocom(广和通). The transfer is likely to be completed in May, reported the website More Than Moore on March 24.

Eric McLaughlin, VP and GM of wireless solutions at Intel, told More Than Moore, “As we continue to prioritize investments in our IDM 2.0 strategy, we have made the difficult decision to exit our WWAN client business for both LTE and 5G. We are working with our partners and customers to facilitate a seamless transition to support their ongoing business and ensure our customers continue to have solutions for the connected PC segment.”

Intel sold its ‘Intel Communications and Devices Group’ (CDG) business to Apple in a $1 billion deal back in 2019. The deal meant that Apple obtained most of Intel’s 5G modem IP, related product teams, equipment, and property leases. The deal only covered smartphone modems - Intel retained critical IP and the option to build modems for PCs, embedded markets, autonomous driving, infrastructure, and other verticals, said the report.

Since the deal, Intel has been working on two fronts - maintaining its 4G modem business, alongside its supplier Fibocom Wireless, and as of 2021 Intel has been working with MediaTek to bring 5G to PCs. This means leveraging the modems MediaTek and Fibocom have developed, along with driver stacks from Intel, and also leveraging Intel’s multi-year relationships with PC OEMs, OSVs, and wireless carriers.

As part of Intel’s growth strategy in manufacturing, and the recent macroeconomic climate, Intel has been looking to exit certain businesses which have not been overly beneficial to the balance sheet. The WWAN business is one of those. However, it should be pointed out that this does not affect other parts of Intel’s connectivity strategy, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Ethernet, Thunderbolt, or network+edge businesses.

In addition, Intel will start the process for end-of-life of their 4G modem portfolio. The last shipments to its main partner Fibocom are expected to occur in late 2025, depending on orders. Meanwhile, no new research or technology will be done in this market, said the More Than Moore report.

Founded in 1999 and listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2017, the Shenzhen-based Fibocom mainly provides IoT wireless communication solutions and 5G, 4G, 3G, 2G, narrowband-IoT, LTE-M, smart, and automotive wireless communication modules, according to its website.

The Taiwan-based MediaTek was established in 1997 and went public on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in 2001. It is the world’s 4th largest global fabless company in developing innovative systems-on-chip (SoC) for mobile device, home entertainment, connectivity and IoT products, according to MediaTek’s website.

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