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Born in the USA! Broadcom will produce American-made RF modules for Apple

So what happened to Apple building its own modems?

Apple has tapped Broadcom to build 5G radio frequency equipment in the US under a "multi-billion" dollar deal announced on Tuesday.

The venture will see Silicon Valley-based biz Broadcom develop a variety of 5G components for the iGiant, including film bulk acoustic resonators (FBAR) filters. These components are used in most 4G and 5G smartphones as well as in a variety of GPS and wireless applications.

Under the deal, Broadcom will manufacture these FBAR filters and other "cutting-edge wireless connectivity components" at their site in Fort Collins, Colorado.

The manufacture of these components in the US is a major piece of this deal. As you may recall, back in 2021, Apple committed to investing $430 billion into home-grown tech business over the next five years.

"All of Apple's products depend on technology engineered and built here in the United States, and we'll continue to deepen our investments in the US economy," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

While Apple already uses Broadcom Wi-Fi radios in many of its products today, it remains to be seen when we can expect American-made wireless and cellular components to make their way into your next Mac or iPhone.

The announcement comes just months after reports surfaced that Apple was planning to replace wireless chips sourced from Broadcom with an in-house design. However, Tuesday's announcement doesn't necessarily contradict that report.

While Apple is expected to transition to its own wireless modules around the 2025 time frame, analysts told Reuters in January that Apple was unlikely to replace Broadcom's RF modules anytime soon due to their inherent complexity.

Rumors of an homegrown cellular modem and/or wireless module from Apple have been circling ever since the company acquired Intel's modem business in a billion dollar deal in 2019. Intel previously supplied 4G models for several iPhone generations, including the iPhone 7. However, in 2018, Apple began moving away from Intel modems.

As we previously reported, Apple is said to be developing a multipurpose wireless chip that combines cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity into a single package. But despite these rumors, the company continues to rely on Broadcom's wireless and Qualcomm's cellular technologies in its products.

This means that unlike Qualcomm's Snapdragon system-on-chips (SoC), which often combine the CPU, GPU, wireless, and cellular modems on a single chip, Apple's has to couple multiple independent chips together.

The Register has asked Apple for comment on its plans for Intel's modem tech and how Broadcom's RF modules might play into that; we'll let you know if we hear back. ®

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