TAIWAN’S MediaTek Inc. has announced a partnership with US chipmaking giant Intel Corp. to supply future Intel-powered PCs with fifth-generation networking modems from the start of 2021.

The agreement marks a small step toward a big change in the way computing is done, as 5G promises to revolutionize both the speed and availability of cellular networks, creating dense coverage with bandwidth comparable to current Wi-Fi standards and beyond. Mobile computers stand to benefit greatly from this upgrade, and US PC vendors Dell Inc. and HP Inc. have both been named by MediaTek among the likely first customers for the 5G-enabled, Intel-powered laptops that are to come.

In July, Intel agreed to sell its cellular modem business to Apple Inc. for $1 billion, which the Cupertino, California company will use to speed up and improve design efforts around a 5G chip for its 2020 iPhones. Without its own in-house development, Intel has to license 5G technology in and MediaTek has been deemed the best option, sidestepping more direct rival Qualcomm Inc. and the sanction-laden Huawei Technologies Co.

As the dominant provider of processors for desktop and notebook computers, Intel is in a position where it can dictate when the broad majority of laptop PCs embrace the addition of 5G connectivity, and the timeline set out from this MediaTek partnership suggests that it’s a little over a year away. — Bloomberg