MWC 2019: Intel 5G chip will be ready by end of 2019

Smartphone manufacturers and PC vendors will gain access to Intel’s multi-mode 5G chip by the end of 2019, ahead of likely 2020 product launches.

Intel will be ready to go with its 5G chipset by the end of this year, the tech giant has confirmed at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019.

According to Intel GM of 5G Advanced Technologies Rob Topol, it is taking longer to develop because the company wanted to get a pure 5G chip.

"You are seeing modems already from competitors right now -- what they did was they took a single-mode 5G modem and they put it with another chipset that's LTE, 2G, 3G," Topol said.

"Intel decided to not do separate chips. We're going to build one multi-mode modem, one single chip, and so it's a much better architecture for a phone, for a laptop, for small form factors."

Intel has had its multi-mode architecture in development for "quite a long time", he said.

"We're really making sure the modem is ready," Topol explained.

With the chip being made available to partners at the end of this year, he said it's then up to manufacturers to decide when they launch their products -- but Intel's expectation is 2020, with PC vendors also targeting that timeline.

While Intel has deals in place with Dell, Lenovo, HP, and Microsoft on the PC side, it has yet to sign up any smartphone brands, Topol told ZDNet.

"We've not announced any phone customers yet, but we obviously have good customers today and we expect that we'll continue to support those customers in their chipsets," he said.

Topol confirmed that Intel is also continuing its testing work with Huawei to make sure that platforms are interoperable.

"They've been a great partner for that; it makes sure that Intel platforms can easily be adopted in the Chinese market, and especially with any of Huawei's partners," he said.

"We're just making sure that Huawei has access to all our products so they can build them into their solutions."

Topol also spoke about Intel's partnership with Japanese online marketplace Rakuten to help the provider build out an entirely virtualised mobile network in Japan.

"They're designing their network to where it's fully virtualised from cloud all the way down through the edge, and so it's an exciting partner for Intel, because they've chosen Intel for that architecture all the way through that network."

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona as a guest of Intel

MWC 2019 Coverage