One of the biggest tech industry stories of next year will likely be 5G—the next-gen of cellular technology that will redefine speed and responsiveness, making connections up to 100 times faster.
Now, it’s a heated race to see which provider is going to roll out true 5G, fastest and farthest. Verizon promises to launch its 5G service next year, while AT&T has vowed to launch it this year in 12 markets, successfully testing it last month in Waco, Texas, and eyeing launch in 19 cities next year.
But for investors, getting in on the 5G ‘revolution’ might require thinking outside the box and looking not just at the providers, but at the backbone of this technology.
Case in point: Intel (INTC), which has just announced plans for its new XMM 8160 5G modem, set for release in the second half of 2019. Intel’s acceleration plans could make it the first tech company to actually power 5G iPhones (but the trick here is Android vs iPhone).
So the race isn’t just about providers—it’s about the tech behind 5G and their race to secure market share.
5G could be the thing that catapults Intel ahead of Qualcomm (QCOM), for instance, which has dominated the LTE market.
Intel’s new modem will support the at the new 5G specs and still include support for 2G,3G and 4G.
“Intel’s new XMM 8160 5G modem provides the ideal [hardware] to support large volumes for scaling across multiple device categories to coincide with broad 5G deployments,” Dr. Cormac Conroy, Intel’s corporate vice president and general manager of the firm’s Communication and Devices Group, said in a statement.
“We are seeing great demand for the advanced feature set of the XMM 8160, such that we made a strategic decision to pull in the launch of this modem by half a year to deliver a leading 5G .”
But what’s got everyone’s attention is the fact that this new modem is being fast-tracked after Apple (AAPL) switched to exclusively using Intel modems for its 2018 iPhones. And rumor has it that Apple will stick to Intel when everything goes 5G, the Verge reports.
But the trick is in the timing. While Apple switched from Qualcomm to Intel earlier this year, going with Intel for 5G means waiting until 2020 to release the first 5G iPhone. Qualcomm already has it’s 5G modem out there, and if Apple went back to Qualcomm it could get a head start on 5G phones in 2019. Committing to Intel means waiting a bit longer. With Intel’s modem set for release in late 2019, then on to testing, the real roll-out would be 2020.
And there are plenty of other companies to keep a close eye on in this space, too, including Samsung, Nokia, Sony, LG and Huawei—along with a host of others. And they joining forces with Qualcomm to get 5G smartphones on the market in late 2019.
So, the race is on, and it’s nearing the finish line, with investors wondering whether Intel is the safe bet thanks to Apple, or whether Apple will bow to the pressure of timing. At the end of the day, this is another Android vs Apple race.
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