Intel to Auction Off Modem IP and Patents

Intel is planning to auction off its portfolio of patents related to cellular wireless connectivity, according to a new report from IAM.

Intel's upcoming auction follows the company's April decision to exit the 5G smartphone modem business. Intel stopped work on 5G modem technology after Apple and Qualcomm reached a settlement and a supply agreement that will see Qualcomm providing 5G modem chips for future iPhones.

Intel 5G Modem
Multiple rumors have suggested Apple and Intel have held talks about Apple's potential purchase of Intel's German modem unit. The two were in talks as early as this month, with Intel planning to sell its modem business off in pieces.

Intel is aiming to sell off 8,500 assets from its patent portfolio, including 6,000 patents related to 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular standards and an additional 1,700 patents on wireless implementation technologies.

The auction that Intel has planned is separate from its efforts to sell its smartphone modem business, though IAM speculates that an interested buyer could potentially pick up both. It's also possible that a group of companies could band together to purchase the patents that are up for grabs.

It could be that Intel's decision to sell its portfolio is part of a strategy to drum up interest in the modem business as a whole. There is no indication yet that Intel has ruled out selling the patent assets to a non-practising entity, which might encourage a group of operating companies to band together to take the assets off the assertion market.

Should Apple purchase either Intel's patent business, Intel's patents, or both, it would give the Cupertino company a leg up in its own mobile chip development. Apple is working on creating its own line of modem chips to reduce reliance on suppliers like Qualcomm, but it will be several years yet before Apple's own chips are ready to be used in iPhones and other devices.

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Top Rated Comments

justperry Avatar
65 months ago
This won't end well for anyone if a patent troll picks them up.
Or worse, Qualcomm;)
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mozumder Avatar
65 months ago
This won't end well for anyone if a patent troll picks them up.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
realtuner Avatar
65 months ago
RE: "but it will be several years yet before Apple's own chips are ready ('https://www.macrumors.com/2019/05/15/apple-designed-iphone-modems-by-2025/') to be used in iPhones and other devices."

That should really read "but it will be several years yet (& NO guarantee)".

The odds that Apple is ever successful with a competitive cellular modem chip is ONLY 1/3 "best case".

1/3 chance they Fail out-right, 1/3 chance they complete the R&D project & then conclude it's NOT competitive.

Cellular Model Development is Rocket Science !
Rocket science? Funny that Qualcomm can't leverage that "rocket science expertise" on processors. They couldn't design an SoC to punch themselves out of a wet paper bag.
[doublepost=1561497842][/doublepost]
Eh... I’d think this is high-profile enough to prevent that from happening. That is, assuming Apple or some other legitimate tech company can outbid a patent troll, which should be easy.
Well, Apple did join others (Blackberry, Sony and Microsoft) to pick up Nortel's portfolio. The same thing could happen again.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
65 months ago
I smell a bidding war, which is exactly what Intel needs right now. AMD's new CPUs are putting a lot of pressure on them.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cosmosent Avatar
65 months ago
RE: "but it will be several years yet before Apple's own chips are ready ('https://www.macrumors.com/2019/05/15/apple-designed-iphone-modems-by-2025/') to be used in iPhones and other devices."

That should really read "but it will be several years yet (& NO guarantee)".

The odds that Apple is ever successful with a competitive cellular modem chip is ONLY 1/3 "best case".

1/3 chance they Fail out-right, 1/3 chance they complete the R&D project & then conclude it's NOT competitive.

Cellular Model Development is Rocket Science !
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ViDeOmAnCiNi Avatar
65 months ago
Apple should definitely purchase the patents just for protection of their own modem (if it comes to fruition).
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)