5G router, anyone? MediaTek lobs cheaper chipset at telco carrier pigeons

Everyone's looking to cash in on the race to next-gen network

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With 5G increasingly touted as an alternative to existing fixed-line broadband connections, Taiwanese semiconductor biz MediaTek has pushed out its latest chipset for next-generation routers.

The MediaTek T750 5G chipset uses a 7nm process, and is designed for low power consumption. It supports sub-6GHz frequencies for broader coverage, but not the ultra-fast mmWave standard. In addition to fixed 5G routers, MediaTek also intends for its chipset to be used in portable MiFi-style routers.

The Taiwanese firm is no stranger to the consumer router sphere and as one of the largest smartphone chipset manufacturers around, it intends to deepen its reach in household cellular broadband.

To date, one of the biggest sellers of home 5G CPE (consumer premises equipment) has been Huawei. In addition to its own-brand gear, the embattled Chinese networking firm sells white-labelled kit to telcos, which rebrand and repackage it for their customers. As Huawei's troubles in the west continue, MediaTek is waiting in the wings.

5G and LTE CPE tech is a growing market. In May, analyst house IDC forecast double-digit growth, reaching $3bn by 2024. In 2019, it estimated the market size to be just under $1bn.

If there's one thing MediaTek does well, it's selling cheaply and at scale. Its Helio chipsets, for example, are ubiquitous in the lower third of the smartphone market. However, existing 5G CPE hardware is comparatively expensive, and while that cost can be attributed to a relatively small market and the necessity to recoup spent R&D costs, added competition should help drive prices southwards.

That'll be music to the ears of carriers, which need to make a return on their multibillion-dollar investments in 5G infrastructure. Swallowing some of the market held by fixed-line broadband providers should help absorb that cost, while they also explore new avenues, particularly in terms of edge computing and ancillary services. ®

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