INTERNATIONAL – Qualcomm on Tuesday introduced its second-generation of so-called modem chips to connect phones to 5G networks, speeding up the race around faster wireless data connections expected to begin rolling out later this year.
Qualcomm, the world’s largest mobile chip supplier, is hoping the device will fuel the spread of 5G phones later this year and next year. While Chinese phone makers such as Xiaomi Corp last year used Qualcomm’s first-generation chip for small batches of 5G phones, the second-generation chip announced Tuesday is aimed at mass production.
The move comes a day before Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker, is set to announce its new flagship Galaxy series phones. Samsung and Qualcomm in December publicly committed to working together to release a 5G phone this year, and analysts believe Samsung will unveil a 5G version of its flagship models this week.
Qualcomm’s chips are entering a crowded field. Huawei Technologies, the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, last month announced that it has built a 5G chip that it will use in its own phones. Samsung, too, has a 5G modem called the Exynos 5100 that will power many Samsung devices sold outside the United States. Taiwan-based MediaTek Inc also has the 5G chip, with Intel Corp targeting the second half of this year for a release.
Carriers in Korea and China, meantime, are set to start turning on the networks this spring, with carriers in the United States planning rollouts for later this year.