Qualcomm is in talks with Taiwanese firm Win Semiconductor on a mysterious 5G infrastructure project, according to anonymous sources. Qualcomm did not respond to the reports, while Win Semiconductor said that the company is excited for the upcoming age of 5G and how it will affect the company's usual business, but did not say anything about potentially teaming up with Qualcomm. The anonymous reports are saying that the two will begin working together on some sort of project related to the building and deployment of true 5G infrastructure in 2018 or 2019, and the timeline for the project to finish will coincide with current estimates for true 5G networks to go commercial, which are currently at a rough consensus of 2020.
Qualcomm's vested interest in getting 5G out to consumers is extremely clear; the firm manufactures tons of different types of networking equipment, has patents in almost all fields of networking and mobile computing, and has a flagship smartphone system-on-a-chip as its calling card. Win Semiconductor, on the other hand, could likely just as easily have sat by and let 5G come to it, had it not been approached by Qualcomm. The company works in a huge variety of different sectors with all kinds of semiconductor-based products, though power amplifiers for smartphones and full-stack optical communication units are two products that it manufactures which are likely to see a huge increase in demand once 5G networks are commercially available. This deal with Qualcomm, if the rumors are true, may involve some sort of patent license as well, which would increase Win Semiconductor's interest in 5G.
4.9G networks, being networks that use 5G technologies in current LTE-focused networking hardware, are already going live in some markets. True 5G will require entirely new network infrastructure to reach speeds and capacities well beyond current LTE networks, though the final version of the standard has yet to be completely defined. Qualcomm is certainly not the only one working toward getting real 5G out the door, and while a race may certainly be on, nobody is going to even be able to see the finish line until the 3GPP finishes creating the baseline standard for what qualifies as true 5G.