Qualcomm laid out its 5G plans on Thursday as a key pillar of its growth strategy, with 19 global wireless operators using its technology to trial the new ultra-fast networks.
* Qualcomm, which is trying to show its future is bright without Broadcom, is confident 5G networks will roll out in 2019.
* Broadcom has offered $121 billion to buy Qualcomm, which would be the largest merger in tech history. Qualcomm's board is reviewing the offer.
Qualcomm is highlighting the company's growth potential from ultra-fast 5G networks in the wake of a $121 billion hostile takeover bid from rival Broadcom.
The San Diego wireless giant said Thursday it is working with 19 global wireless carriers -- including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile -- who will use Qualcomm's Snapdragon X50 chips for 5G trials in 2018 ahead of commercial network launches in 2019.
"The (wireless industry) is preparing for 5G," said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon. "Operators today that cover 2.5 billion users, they are actively investing into the preparation of their networks, the upgrades. They are getting ready to announce capital expenditure expansion. Some already did. They are building the 5G infrastructure.
Qualcomm also said the Snapdragon X50 5G radio has been selected by 19 device makers including LG, Sony, HTC, Asus, ZTE and Xiaomi for their upcoming 5G devices.
Qualcomm has made 5G a key piece of its growth story amid Broadcom's push to acquire the company for $82 per share.
Its board is reviewing Broadcom's offer. Meanwhile, Broadcom has nominated a slate of alternative candidates to the Qualcomm board of directors to push the deal through. Shareholders votes will be counted at Qualcomm's annual meeting on March 6.
Qualcomm is the market leader in 3G/4G cellular radios that link today's smartphones to cellular networks. But it also faces rising competition as the smartphone market matures and sales slow.
Its share price also has slumped because of legal disputes with Apple and global anti-monopoly regulators over its patent licensing business practices.
Despite these setbacks, the company argues that it has a bright future as cellular technology expands beyond the smartphone and into driver assist/self-driving cars, healthcare, always connected computers, Internet of Things devices and other industries.
5G networks are forecast to deliver up to 5 gigabits per second download speeds, imperceptible transmission delays, more capacity and high reliability to smartphones and other connected devices.
The technology to do all this is complex. 5G taps so-called millimeter wave frequencies. These frequencies can deliver a lot of bandwidth but degrade easily and must be tightly managed with beam-forming antennas and other technologies.
Qualcomm has been investing in 5G research for nearly a decade and played a leading role in the standards setting process. Rivals such as Intel and Huawei hope to break Qualcomm's cellular radio dominance as the wireless industry transitions to 5G. The company pointed to the wireless carriers and device makers that are using its technology as evidence of its 5G leadership.
"We are building a gigabit society," Amon said. "The second thing you get is capacity for unlimited data so you don't have these discussions any more about using your LTE versus using Wi-Fi."
Analysts have questioned whether Qualcomm is being too optimistic about the timing of 5G, contending that there's no 'killer app' that will push consumers to upgrade to 5G smartphones.
But Qualcomm believes a host of things -- ranging from easier access to Internet cloud content to ubiquitous video streaming -- will drive demand.
"The bottom line is we are pretty confident that adoption is going to come as soon as we put this capability in the hands of the user," said Serge Willenegger, senior vice president of 4G/5G and Smart Cities for Qualcomm.
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