While talks of freeing up spectrum for 5G networks are only in the beginning stages and most carriers are either planning how to approach a future 5G buildout or running early tests, it falls to chipmakers to have 5G-compatible equipment created, tested and launched long before OEMs and carriers begin to get consumers hyped for the new network technology. While established players like Qualcomm and Samsung are already on the ball, development is happening at breakneck speeds for somebody a bit on the unexpected side. MediaTek, long known and loved for their budget and battery friendly silicon, seems to have something to prove. They have upped their 5G development staff to 100 and counting, with the goal set as commercial deployment in 2018, a full two years before the most generous analysts are saying consumers may see 5G.
MediaTek is refusing to let up in their 5G initiative; insiders say the company is prepared to double or even triple the staff working on 5G solutions, if it means they can put out quality products in time to meet their 2018 goal. They have also begun conducting testing in some territories, getting together with carriers to test on their networks. They have even partnered up with Japan-based NTT DoCoMo to get help in tailoring their new 5G toys to a modern mobile network. The carrier will have direct input on MediaTek's research and design processes and help with prototyping and implementation. The two made their 5G partnership official earlier in the year.
MediaTek isn't the only budget name looking to make an early splash in the 5G world; Spreadtrum, who provides the brains for devices like cheap gaming tablets and TV sticks running Android, is also reportedly pushing hard for 5G products, though they have yet to set a release timeline. This could indicate that the trend of sale-priced silicon sculptors being late to the party when it comes to new network technologies may finally be coming to an end. On the other hand, the trend could continue and their early eagerness to burst onto the 5G scene could make MediaTek and Spreadtrum the names to beat in the budget world, though in the end, it all depends on a formal definition for the 5G standard coming to light sooner rather than later.