MediaTek brings 5G to centerstage to counter Qualcomm

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Chipmaker MediaTek has sharpen its focus to bring fifth-generation or 5G technology to the centerstage, following the aggressive adoption strategies by telcos and heightened rivalry particularly with the US-based Qualcomm.

Taiwanese chipset company that has started to work closely with the existing handset vendors worldwide including India, is expecting mobile devices tuned to the 3.5 Ghz frequency band, are on the way to hit market shelves by 2019.

“MediaTek is heavily investing in 5G development. We expect devices aligned with 3.5 Ghz range to come by 2019,” MediaTek director— Technology Mohamed Elsaidny,” said, adding that the company’s pipeline includes 5G routers and modems.

The new MediaTek-powered smartphones would also be relevant for the Indian market as the government is all set to auction radio waves in the 3.3Ghz-3.6Ghz spectrum range, recommended by the country’s telecom regulator.

One of the first chip makers participating in the 5G Device Forerunner Initiative together with China Mobile, MediaTek, in June this year said that its Helio M70 chipset based on new radio (NR) standard interface will be ready in 2019.

Based on M70 chipset, Elsaidny said that the company will launch 5G NR modem in 2019.

Rival Qualcomm expects that original equipment makers would launch 5G smartphones early 2019, and the US-based chipmaker has already introduced Snapdragon X50, a 5G-enabled modem late 2017, though giving a trivial market edge.

“We will continue to keep focus on mid-tier market for 5G, and is committed to offer enhanced design experience,” MediaTek’s top executive said.

Hsinchu-headquartered company’s consistent strategy skewed towards mid-segment device makers, and of late aggression, however, may push it to close a market gap with Qualcomm in newer technology.

Canalys, a Singapore-based market research firm attributed MediaTek’s incapability to advance its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology portfolio, used for fourth-generation or 4G wireless protocol, as a barrier to its growth last year.

In 2017, smartphones backed by Taiwanese company had a global market share of 20%, ahead of iPhone-maker Apple’s 15%, but it drifted behind arch rival Qualcomm which had 34% of market pie, according to the research finding.

Elsaidny, a former Qualcomm engineer, said that the company is also working aggressively to reduce power consumption in upcoming 5G-enabled smartphones which, according to him, is a key requirement as the upsurge in data usage, would drain battery quickly.

Citing industry studies, the executive said that 8.9 billion mobile subscribers are expected with LTE to remain major cellular technology contributing 63% of the total base while 5G would account for 12% by 2023.





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