Intel Reportedly in Exclusive Talks With Unnamed Buyer Over 8,500 Wireless Patents

Just weeks after Intel reportedly put around 8,500 wireless patents up for auction, the chipmaker has now taken the portfolio off the market and entered into a period of exclusivity with an unnamed buyer for a substantial portion of the assets up for sale, according to IAM.

Intel 5G Modem
While the hopeful buyer has not been disclosed, the report speculates it could be Apple:
Intel gave no indication of who the interested bidder might be; whether, for example, it is an operating company acting on its own, a consortium or an investor play. However, given the reports of Apple's interest in the chipmaker's overall smartphone modem business, the iPhone giant must be seen as among the most likely bidders.
Intel is reportedly aiming to sell off 8,500 assets from its patent portfolio, including 6,000 patents related to 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular standards and an additional 1,700 patents on wireless implementation technologies.

The portfolio would obviously be tremendously valuable to Apple as rumors suggest the iPhone maker is developing its own cellular modems that could be ready by 2022 or 2023, according to reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple is also widely expected to release its first 5G-enabled iPhone next year.

In April, Intel announced that it is exiting the 5G smartphone business, not long after Apple and Qualcomm reached a settlement and a multi-year supply agreement that will see Qualcomm providing 5G modems for future iPhones.

Apple is reportedly interested in purchasing parts of Intel's smartphone modem business following its exit, possibly including its German division. Together with the 8,500 patents, this would give Apple a significant amount of 5G-related intellectual property to advance its wireless technologies.

Tags: Intel, 5G

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Apple in Talks to Purchase Intel’s German Modem Unit

Apple is in talks to buy Intel's German modem unit, which could help the Apple develop its own modem chips more quickly, reports The Information.

Intel is considering selling its modem business in pieces, and this is not the first time we've heard word that Apple's interested in a purchase. Back in April, The Wall Street Journal said that Apple had held discussions with Intel about acquiring parts of the Intel modem chip business, and apparently, those talks are ongoing.

Intel 5G Modem
Any deal between Apple and Intel would likely include Intel patents and products, said one person briefed on the discussions. Such an arrangement would resemble the deal Apple reached with Dialog Semiconductor, a U.K.-based company that designs chips that handle power management chores in devices. Last year, Apple and Dialog struck a $600 million deal that brought 300 Dialog employees to Apple, along with some patents.
The two companies have been in discussions since last year, but The Information warns that the talks could still fall through without a deal.

The Information estimates that a deal for Intel's German modem business could bring "hundreds" of modem engineers to Apple. Intel's chip production facilities are headquartered in Germany after a 2011 purchase of chip maker Infineon.

Intel announced in April that it was exiting the 5G smartphone modem business, sharing the news just hours after Apple and Qualcomm announced a resolution to their ongoing legal battle and established a new supply deal.

Apple had been planning to use Intel's 5G chips for its 2020 iPhones, but rumors indicated Intel wasn't able to meet design deadlines, causing the relationship between the two companies to sour. Apple is now planning to use Qualcomm's 5G modem chips in its 2020 5G iPhones, and is also working on its own modem chip development for later devices.

In the future, Apple is aiming to reduce its dependence on suppliers like Qualcomm by creating its own modem chips, but the company still has a few years to go before the technology is ready. According to The Information, Apple has been telling new modem chip hires in San Diego that it doesn't expect to release devices with its own modem chips until 2025.


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Sprint Launches Mobile 5G Network in Four U.S. Cities

Sprint today announced the initial launch of its mobile 5G network, bringing 5G connectivity to Sprint customers in areas of Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Kansas City.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Sprint expects to expand 5G availability to areas of Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix, and Washington D.C.

At the foundation of Sprint 5G is Massive MIMO, a breakthrough technology that dramatically improves network capacity. Sprint is using 64T64R (64 transmitters 64 receivers) 5G Massive MIMO radios from Ericsson in Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Kansas City. These radios support split-mode, enabling Sprint to simultaneously deliver LTE Advanced and 5G NR service. Sprint's 5G Massive MIMO radios run on its 2.5 GHz mid-band spectrum, and they are deployed on Sprint's existing 4G cell sites, providing a nearly identical footprint for both 2.5 GHz LTE and 5G NR coverage.
Early 5G networks are limited in scope and are available in small areas in the above listed cities, with residents of those areas able to check out the Sprint press release for specific data on where 5G will be available.

The type of 5G network that Sprint is rolling out uses millimeter wave spectrum, which offers blazing fast data transfer speeds but is sensitive to interference and limited in range, making it best suited to use in urban areas because it can't cover wide swathes of land.

In rural and suburban areas, U.S. carriers, including Sprint, will roll out 5G networks on mid-bands and low-bands, aka sub-6GHz 5G. T-Mobile, the company Sprint is hoping to merge with, is focusing heavily on this more widespread connectivity.

Non mmWave 5G technology won't be as fast as the speeds possible with mmWave, but it will bring improvements over current 4G LTE networks. Sprint says its mmWave 5G technology is 10 times faster than LTE.

Sprint is, in the future, aiming to expand its 5G network through its merger with T-Mobile, though there are concerns that it won't be approved. A recent report suggests the United States Justice Department wants to require T-Mobile and Sprint to "lay the groundwork" for a new wireless carrier (to create a fourth competitor) as a condition for the government allowing the merger to proceed.

Connecting to a 5G network requires a smartphone that supports 5G, and there are few on the market at the current time. Options include the LG ThinQ 5G and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G.

There are no iPhones that are able to connect to 5G networks at the current time, and Apple is not expected to release a 5G device until 2020. Rumors suggest 2020 iPhones will feature 5G chips from Qualcomm, following the resolution of the legal woes between Qualcomm and Apple along with Intel's decision to drop out of the 5G chip market.


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Vodafone to Switch on UK’s First 5G Network on July 3, 2019

Vodafone on Tuesday said it will switch on its 5G network in the United Kingdom on July 3, 2019, making it the first carrier to announce a firm date for the launch of the next-generation cellular technology in the country.

Seven cities will get 5G coverage at launch, including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. The rollout will extend by the end of the year to Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.


In a press release on its site, Vodafone said it will price 5G the same as 4G for both consumers and business customers, while a choice of 5G smartphones will be available to buy online or in Vodafone stores over the summer. They will include the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G, the Samsung S10 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X (5G), and the Huawei Mate X (5G).

The company will also offer a 5G router for use in the home and office to give customers without a fixed line connection high-speed broadband access. Vodafone said it will also offer 5G roaming in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery said: "We started our 5G journey more than three years ago. We led the way in setting 5G standards to ensure phones and networks work well together. We upgraded our masts to be able to take 5G without disruption. And we were the first UK company to test 5G over our all-fibre core fixed and mobile network.

"This is important. It means we can today announce the largest launch of 5G in the UK and be the first to announce 5G roaming. It means that UK businesses can lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attract investment. It means consumers can get the fastest mobile speeds ever, and it means that our public sector will be able to adopt new services to improve healthcare, social services and housing."
Multiple rumors dating back months have suggested Apple is going to launch a 5G iPhone in 2020, which means the 2019 iPhones will continue to use 4G.

There were questions about whether Apple would be able to acquire 5G chips for its 2020 devices following its dispute with Qualcomm, however that litigation has been cleared up, making a 5G iPhone in 2020 a real prospect.

Apple won't be prepared to launch 5G iPhones in 2019 and can't afford to wait until 2021, with competitors already launching 5G smartphones, therefore 2020 is almost certainly the year 5G will come to iPhone.


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AT&T CEO Believe 5G Phone Plans Could Be Tiered and Priced on Data Speed

The next couple of years will see the rollout of 5G cellular phone networks from companies like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and it sounds like 5G smartphone plans might not be priced in the same way as current 4G LTE plans.

During today's AT&T earnings call, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said (via The Verge) that he believes the pricing for 5G connectivity could resemble home broadband pricing with different prices for different speed tiers rather than one set price for the fastest connectivity available.

"I will be very surprised if, as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn't look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line. If you can offer a gig speed, there are some customers that are willing to pay a premium for 500 meg to a gig speed, and so forth. So I expect that to be the case. We're two to three years away from seeing that play out."
5G networks are still in the early days, so how pricing will ultimately work out remains to be seen. It's also not clear how variable pricing for tiered speeds would work given the fact that 5G connections speeds are going to vary depending on whether you're in a city or in a more rural area.

The fastest 5G speeds, available through mmWave technology, will be limited to urban areas. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg this week explained that millimeter wave high-frequency spectrum isn't suitable for widespread coverage, a sentiment shared by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, who wrote a blog post on the subject earlier this week.
Some of this is physics - millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum has great potential in terms of speed and capacity, but it doesn't travel far from the cell site and doesn't penetrate materials at all. It will never materially scale beyond small pockets of 5G hotspots in dense urban environments.
AT&T has launched its 5G network in a handful of markets across the United States, and other carriers, like Verizon, have also been starting their 5G network rollouts.

There are few smartphones that are able to take advantage of 5G networks at the current time, but additional 5G smartphones are expected later in 2019.

Rumors suggest Apple's first 5G iPhone will come out in 2020, when 5G networks are more mature and more widely available. Apple is planning to use chips from Qualcomm and perhaps Samsung now that Intel is out of the 5G smartphone modem chip business.

Tags: AT&T, 5G, 5G iPhone

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Kuo: 2020 iPhones to Support 5G, Qualcomm and Samsung Likely to Supply Modems

2020 iPhones will support 5G networks, with chipmaker Qualcomm likely to supply Apple with 5G modems for the devices after the two companies settled their high-profile legal battle last week, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Interestingly, Kuo also expects Samsung to fulfill some of the 5G modem orders in select markets. Apple frequently aims to diversify its supply chain in an effort to reduce risk and have improved bargaining power, potentially reducing its costs as multiple suppliers engage in a price war to win orders.

An excerpt from Kuo's latest research note, obtained by MacRumors:
Apple and Qualcomm's end of patent dispute and entrance into a six-year licensing deal implies new 2H20 iPhone models will support 5G; Qualcomm and Samsung are potential 5G baseband chip suppliers: The market was worried that Intel's disappointing 5G baseband chip development might be the most severe uncertainty for the new 2H20 iPhone models' adoption of 5G. But we believe the uncertainty has been removed after Apple and Qualcomm's end of patent dispute and entrance into a six-year licensing deal, and Intel's announcement that it will exit the 5G baseband chip business. We expect Apple will likely adopt 5G baseband chips made by Qualcomm (focus on mmWave markets) and Samsung (focus on Sub-6GHz markets) for lowering supply risk, reducing costs and having better bargaining power.
Kuo believes that 5G will be a boon for both iPhone sales and Apple's supply chain in 2020. He forecasts total iPhone shipments of 195–200 million units in 2020, including 70–75 million 5G models released in the second half of the year.

Qualcomm was already the widely expected frontrunner for 5G modems in 2020 iPhones after Intel announced it is exiting the 5G smartphone modem business.


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Huawei Hasn’t Held Talks With Apple About Supplying 5G Modems for iPhone

Huawei said on Tuesday it has not held talks with Apple about supplying 5G chips for future iPhones, just a day after its founder admitted it was "open" to doing so (via Reuters).

"We have not had discussions with Apple on this issue," Huawei's rotating Chairman Ken Hu said on Tuesday, adding he looked forward to Apple's competition in the 5G phone market.
Last week we covered a report suggesting that the Chinese tech firm might be interested in supplying the next-generation modem chips to Apple. The rumor was later confirmed on Monday, when CNBC published an interview with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei in which he said the same thing.

The Chinese tech firm develops its own components including processors and modem chips, but has previously refused to supply them to third-parties, making its self-declared openness to sell to Apple all the more notable.

However, Apple has expressed no interest in using Huawei tech, despite potential suitability for Apple devices. That could be related to Huawei's dispute with the U.S. government, or perhaps Apple's own accusations that the firm uses "dubious tactics" to steal trade secrets.

Apple is rumored to be struggling in its plans to support 5G technology, with plans to introduce a 5G iPhone in 2020 stymied by partner Intel's inability to meet its own production timeline.

Switching to Qualcomm 5G chips instead seems increasingly unlikely, given Apple's ongoing legal battle with the company. Meanwhile, Apple has been in talks with Samsung and MediaTek about making 5G chips for 2020 iPhones, but there's no word on how discussions have been going.

Apple is also working on its own LTE chip designs for future iPhones, but that technology is not expected to be ready to ship until 2021.

Tags: Huawei, 5G

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Verizon’s 5G Network Launches Starting in Chicago and Minneapolis

Verizon today announced it has turned on its commercial 5G network, starting in select areas of Minneapolis and Chicago. Verizon had originally targeted an April 11 launch, so the rollout is a week ahead of schedule.


Verizon customers can access the 5G network with the Moto Z3 smartphone paired with the 5G-enabled Moto Mod accessory, providing the "world's first commercial 5G mobile service with a 5G-enabled smartphone." The carrier plans to expand the network to more than 30 cities across the U.S. by the end of 2019.

Verizon says customers in Chicago and Minneapolis should expect typical download speeds of 450 Mbps, with peak speeds of nearly 1 Gbps and latency less than 30 milliseconds. Of course, speeds should improve with future upgrades.

In Chicago, 5G coverage is concentrated in areas of the West Loop and the South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and The Chicago Theatre, according to Verizon. 5G service is also available at select Verizon stores in the city.

In Minneapolis, service is concentrated in the downtown area, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium. 5G service is also available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center, The Commons, and areas of Elliot Park.

The Moto Z3 retails for $240, or 24 monthly payments of $10, while the 5G Moto Mod is available for $199.99 for a limited time. Verizon postpaid customers with any unlimited plan, including Go Unlimited, Beyond Unlimited, or Above Unlimited, can get unlimited 5G data for an additional $10 per month.

As for the first 5G-enabled iPhone, UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri recently said there is "increasing potential that Apple may not be able to ship a 5G iPhone for 2020" due to the company's legal battle with chipmaker Qualcomm and the growing possibility that Intel may not have a 5G modem ready to ship by next year.

Tags: Verizon, 5G

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Sprint Takes Out Full Page NYT Ad Calling Out AT&T for Misleading 5GE Branding

Sprint on Sunday took out a full-page ad in The New York Times to call out AT&T for its "5GE" network labeling, which actually offers 4G speeds rather than 5G speeds.

In the letter [PDF], Sprint calls AT&T's 5G Evolution "fake 5G" and clarifies that AT&T is not, in fact, offering faster speeds than other carriers who deliver the same 4G LTE advancements that AT&T has enabled such as three-way carrier aggregation, 256 QAM, and 4x4 MIMO.

While Sprint is working hard to deliver mobile 5G and the first 5G smartphone in the U.S., AT&T is hard at work trying to convince you that they already won the race to 5G with something they call "5G Evolution." That is simply untrue.

Don't be fooled. 5G Evolution isn't new or true 5G. It is fake 5G.

They would love for you to believe they are different ... better. The truth is AT&T is simply offering customers a nationwide 4G LTE network just like Sprint and all the other major wireless carriers. It's not 5G.
AT&T first started upgrading customer iPhones to read "5GE" in the iOS 12.2 beta, and the misleading branding will become much more widespread when iOS 12.2 sees a public release.

Devices in areas with AT&T's "upgraded" LTE will display "5GE" instead of LTE, but it's not real 5G. There is no iPhone that exists right now that is capable of connecting to a 5G network, nor does AT&T offer a true 5G network at this time.

AT&T has defended itself by claiming that 5G Evolution is the "first step on the road to 5G," but customers and other carriers are not impressed with its misleading branding that has the potential to confuse customers when actual 5G networks become available. AT&T has, however, claimed that customers "love" the 5GE branding because they "want and deserve to know" when "better speeds" are available.
"We understand why our competitors don't like what we are doing, but our customers love it. We introduced 5G Evolution more than two years ago, clearly defining it as an evolutionary step to standards-based 5G. 5G Evolution and the 5GE indicator simply let customers know when their device is in an area where speeds up to twice as fast as standard LTE are available. That's what 5G Evolution is, and we are delighted to deliver it to our customers.
Sprint has done more than just take out an ad against AT&T. In early February, Sprint filed a lawsuit in federal court against AT&T in an attempt to prevent AT&T from using the 5GE labeling on AT&T smartphones. Sprint says AT&T is damaging the consumer reputation and understanding of true 5G and potentially hurting Sprint's 5G launch this summer in nine metro areas.

True 5G smartphones won't be coming until later in 2019, and the 5G networks to support them also won't be available until later in the year. Rumors suggest Apple isn't planning to introduce 5G connectivity on its iPhones until 2020 at the earliest, so 5G is not a technology iPhone users will be able to take advantage of in 2019.

Tags: Sprint, AT&T, 5G, 5GE

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Qualcomm ‘Running Out’ of Time to Win 5G Modem Orders in 2020 iPhones Amid Legal Battle With Apple

Qualcomm may be running out of time if it wants to supply Apple with 5G modems for its 2020 iPhones as some rumors suggest.


In a research note today, analysts at investment bank Barclays said that while they originally thought Qualcomm had an opportunity to supply the 5G modems to Apple, they now believe that time "seems to be running out" unless the two companies can settle their bitter legal battle in the next few weeks.

Back in November, it was reported that Apple will tap Intel as its 5G modem supplier instead, but Barclays analysts believe that the modem design for 2020 iPhones "needs to be set now," and that the expected late 2019 availability of Intel's first consumer 5G modem "does not work with Apple's timeline."

Apple recently testified that it held conversations with Samsung and MediaTek as potential alternative suppliers, but it's unclear if those companies would be able to meet Apple's production, quality, and cost demands.

Apple is also reportedly working on its own cellular modems, but research and development appears to be in the early stages.

Last week, Intel confirmed that it expects the first consumer products embedded with its 5G chips to be released in 2020, the same year Apple is rumored to release its first 5G-enabled iPhone, enabling faster data speeds.


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