By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc on Monday announced 5G networking chips for a range of applications beyond smart phones, aiming to bolster a business that has lost Apple Inc as a major customer and faces unprecedented levels of competition.
San Diego-based Qualcomm is the world’s biggest supplier of mobile phone chips and has told investors it expects a big boost from 5G networks, which will start rolling out this year and feature higher speeds than current 4G networks. Qualcomm chips will supply the 5G connectivity in devices such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy Fold smart phone.
But Qualcomm faces challenges in its mobile chip business, with Apple selecting Intel Corp alone to connect its iPhones released last year to mobile data networks. And MediaTek Inc, Samsung and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd have all announced plans to make 5G chips, with Samsung and Huawei both planning to use the chips in some models of their own phones, eating into potential business for Qualcomm.
At the Mobile World Congress event in Spain on Monday, Qualcomm announced its plans to get its 5G chips into other markets beyond phones. Qualcomm said it working with Japanese e-commerce retailer Rakuten Inc’s mobile division to supply 5G chips for networking gear the retailer is rolling out in Japan.
Qualcomm also has a new chip for personal computers that would connect them to 5G networks, building on Qualcomm’s earlier efforts to attack rival Intel in its core market of central processors. Qualcomm also announced chips for so-called 5G fixed wireless stations, which carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc are hoping could become speedy enough to replace home broadband connections that many consumers in the United States get from their cable operators.
Qualcomm also announced a new set of chips aimed at automakers on Monday. Qualcomm’s existing chips help cars connect to the internet, but the 5G chips are expected to connect cars to other vehicles on the road as well as objects such as traffic signs and signals as vehicles gain new levels of autonomous navigation.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)