The I-Q battle of 4G LTE

The 4G-LTE market is competitive like never before with the technology evolving towards a connected future where reliable communication systems with very high data speeds and practically zero latency are the need of the hour. Chipmakers are consistently pushing their limits to create devices that can achieve these gigabit speeds. And it is none other than Intel and Qualcomm that is leading this race.

(I) Intel holds (Q) Qualcomm’s market slice  

Qualcomm was the first to launch the X16 gigabit LTE modem for smartphones with 1Gbps download speeds in February 2016. Intel followed suit by launching the XMM 7560 LTE modem in February 2017 that can achieve download speeds of over 1 Gbps. Both companies are racing to capture this lucrative chip market of the wireless industry. While Qualcomm is known to be an industry leader, Intel has been making a strong mark in the last few years. In a recent development, Apple announced the use of Intel’s chips to power a part of its iPhone modem. The iPhone 7, which enjoyed a shipment of 55 million in the second half of 2016, is powered by an Intel chip. Market reports suggest that Apple is set to include Intel modems for the iPhone 8 too.

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4G-LTE U.S. Patent Landscape – 2016 Update –> Purchase Now

This latest iRunway Research report maps changes in the patent filing trend in 4G-LTE technologies in the U.S. region over the last two years, vis-a-vis trends prior to 2014. For insights, click here.


The IP Race

The I-Q race for a larger chip market in the 4G-LTE space extends to their patent holdings as well. iRunway’s recently published report on the 4G-LTE patent landscape in the U.S. shows that Qualcomm leads the list of patent filings in notable technologies like MIMO, Beamforming and HetNet (Heterogeneous Networks), while Intel holds the largest patent portfolio in CoMP Transmission (Coordinated Multipoint Transmission) technology, and features among the top players in MIMO, Beamforing and HetNet technologies.

Position of Intel and Qualcomm with regard to their 4G-LTE patent portfolio size in specific technologies in the U.S. region

Position of Intel and Qualcomm with regard to their 4G-LTE patent portfolio size in specific technologies in the U.S. region

High value patents

Seminal patents are granted patents that are of high value and hold immense monetization potential. As per iRunway’s seminal analysis 20% of Qualcomm’s granted 4G-LTE patents are seminal. Intel follows close behind with 13% of its granted patents seminal in nature. A majority of Qualcomm’s seminal assets are related to OFDMA, Carrier Aggregation and MIMO technologies.

Qualcomm and Intel have also declared a high number of patents as essential to telecom standards charted by the ETSI. Both companies hold significant number assets which are Seminal as well as SEPS. While 16% of Qualcomm’s standard essential patents (SEPs) are also seminal, 8% of Intel’s SEPs are also seminal in nature.

These developments in the patent filing activities of Intel and Qualcomm, aligned to the giants launching gigabit LTE modems clearly showcases a fierce battle brewing between these two chipmakers for market leadership.

(Featured image is for representational purpose alone. Image has been sourced from

Nikesh Dodwani
Nikesh Dodwani

Nikesh is a strategy analyst with an expertise in technology evolution trends, patent holdings and assessment of IP strengths of patent holders. He works on high-profile technology litigation and licensing programs, helping attorneys and clients find crucial infringement evidence. Nikesh is a co-author of the 4G-LTE U.S. Patent Landscape - 2016 Update iRunway research report.

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