Intel is auctioning off its massive 5G modem tech portfolio


Could Apple snap it up?
Photo: Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Having gotten out of the 5G smartphone modem game, Intel is auctioning off its IP related to cellular wireless technology. In total, a massive 8,500 assets will be up for auction.

Intel made the call to get out of 5G modems after Apple made up with Qualcomm. At the time, Intel noted that there was no profitable route forward.

According to IAM Media, which broke the story:

“The auction offering is comprised of two parts: the cellular portfolio and a connected device portfolio. The former includes approximately 6,000 patent assets related to 3G, 4G and 5G cellular standards and an additional 1,700 assets that read on wireless implementation technologies.

The latter is made up of 500 patents with broad applicability across the semiconductor and electronics industries. Although that represents a large portion of Intel’s cellular IP it is understood that it will retain significant wireless assets.”

Will Apple want a piece?

Although Apple has a 5G deal in place, it is likely that it will be among the interested parties. A recent report said that Apple was keen on purchasing part of Intel’s modem business. A report by The Information notes that:

“While Intel’s modem group is spread across the world, its foundation is in Germany, where the chip maker Infineon, whose modem operations Intel bought in 2011 for $1.4 billion, is based. Any deal with Intel for the business would likely send hundreds of modem engineers to Apple.”

Before that, a WSJ report claimed that Apple might pursue Intel’s modem business. Apple has notably hired multiple Intel executives. These included Stefan Wolff, who managed the aforementioned German team. It also hired Intel’s leading 5G engineer, Umashankar Thyagarajan, in February.

Apple has shown interest in building its own in-house iPhone modems. Snapping up Intel’s patent portfolio would no doubt help with this.