Intel partners with Mediatek to bring 5G to PCs in 2021

The partnership between Mediatek and Intel implies that always-connected 5G PCs will come to market, but not for a year or two.

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Intel’s departure from the 5G smartphone market earlier this year left it with a portfolio of modem technology it needed to do something with. On Monday, it did: Intel announced a manufacturing relationship with Mediatek, which will build a 5G modem for PCs based on a specification Intel will author.

Specifically, Intel will define a “full 5G solution specification,” which includes a 5G modem to be developed and manufactured by Mediatek. Intel representatives didn’t confirm whether the relationship includes an actual IP licensing agreement. The first fruits from the partnership will be more than a year out, however, with products due in early 2021.

Intel also said that Fibocom will actually be manufacturing M.2 versions of the modems, which will be optimized for Intel’s own Core processors. 

Though it’s not clear when Mediatek’s solution will appear within PCs, one thing that consumers can take away from this partnership is that Intel sees 5G as a part of the PC platform, and an integrated one at that. Qualcomm, too, has made 5G an integral part of its platform, both in smartphones and in PCs. 

Now, however, it’s up to PC makers. The Microsoft Surface Pro X is one of the few laptops designed with LTE connectivity from the beginning. It’s still up to the consumer to provide their own SIM or used the integrated eSIM functionality to enable connectivity. It seems that future PCs will be built around an always-on 5G connection, but it’s still not exactly clear when that vision will become a reality.

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