Taiwanese fabless semiconductor manufacturer MediaTek plans to begin testing its 5G prototype chip in 2018 once the company wraps up the development process for such a technology by the end of this year, industry insiders privy to MediaTek’s 5G plans said on Monday. The prototype chip is the latest development in MediaTek’s efforts to commit more resources to 5G solutions, with the firm recently announcing a new partnership it forged with Nokia. As part of that partnership, the Taiwanese tech giant and the Finnish telecommunications equipment manufacturer aim to jointly develop 5G solutions for commercial use and roll out a pre-commercial 5G platform to the market in 2018. Their solution will be designed to support 5G New Radio communications and comply with existing standards.
TL Lee, general manager of MediaTek's wireless communication unit, confirmed that the company’s 5G chips will be commercially available in the future and that the tech giant will unveil several 5G mobile services in cooperation with wireless carriers. Mr. Lee also noted that MediaTek has been contributing to several 3GPP efforts meant to further advance the development of 5G solutions and ultimately release these products to the market for commercial use in the medium term. MediaTek’s first significant push in the 5G segment came in June 2016 when the Taiwanese company expanded its team of people developing 5G wireless network solutions, bringing its headcount to 100, with the company reportedly preparing more similar expansions in the coming months. Furthermore, the tech giant has recently started several trials in various locations around the world, all with the goal of pushing further advancements in this emerging field.
MediaTek is far from the only company in the world contributing to the development of the fifth generation of mobile networks which are expected to benefit a wide variety of industries ranging from healthcare and self-driving to consumer electronics and the related Internet of Things (IoT) segment; numerous wireless carriers and tech giants like Qualcomm, Samsung, Huawei, and Nokia are all working on the standardization of 5G solutions. While limited commercial applications of the next major breakthrough in wireless standards are believed to be debuted as early as next year, smartphones relying on 5G services are unlikely to be commercialized before 2019, some industry watchers believe.