Qualcomm targets markets beyond phones with new 5G chip

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday released a new chip for connecting devices to 5G networks that it hopes will be adopted for home internet use and inside businesses as a competitor to WiFi.

The San Diego chip designer is the biggest supplier of modem chips that connect smart phones and other consumer electronics to cellular data networks. Qualcomm is aiming to take advantage of the faster speeds possible with 5G network technology to expand its footprint in other markets.

The newest chip, called the X65 modem, is Qualcomm’s fourth generation of 5G modem but the first capable of hitting peak download speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second, about 10 times faster than peaks on previous LTE networks and comparable to fiber broadband services.

A major focus for the new chip will be commercial and industrial applications, such as connecting computers and equipment scattered across corporate campuses directly to cloud computing services when a traditional WiFi network would not be feasible.

Another will be fixed-wireless internet installations, where 5G gear replaces a traditional wire-based home or business broadband internet service.

Cristiano Amon, who will take over as Qualcomm’s chief executive in June, said the networks could offer a faster option for people who live in neighborhoods where fiber-optic internet service is not available.

“We now have the technology in place to start thinking about all those services beyond phones,” Amon told reporters.

Amon said the X65 modem will be used in 40 different product designs for fixed-wireless gear from telecommunications carriers that will start hitting markets in the second half of 2021.

Fixed-wireless sales will be reported in the company’s “internet of things” revenue in the company’s financial results, Amon said. Revenue from those chips grew 48% to $1 billion during Qualcomm’s fiscal first quarter reported last week.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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