Business News/ Companies / News/  Connected 4G, 5G laptops to be mainstream in 3 years: Qualcomm's Rajen Vagadia

NEW DELHI : Connected 4G and 5G laptops will become mainstream in the next couple of years, with the system-on-chip maker Qualcomm working with its vendors to launch devices that will latch on to the mobile networks without the need for a wi-fi connection to access the internet.

In an interview, Rajen Vagadia, vice president and president of Qualcomm India and SAARC, said it has been providing technology to mobile handset makers for decades and helping vendors build laptops that use SIM cards to connect to networks, offering constant connectivity, but with longer battery lives.

“We understand power efficiency because of the phone. Qualcomm laptops are fanless. The chips are designed to take care of those kinds of thermals. You will see the kind of form factors already existing, so probably in another two years, every laptop in India will be a connected laptop. You won’t have to worry about whether there’s wi-fi. You just have to open it like your phone and begin using your laptop," Vagadia said.

Qualcomm has offered its chip technology to Reliance Jio’s 4G laptop JioBook, which was launched in October 2022 for about 16,000. The company has also developed a 5G laptop with Lenovo, ThinkPad X13s, which is available in India for 1.5 lakh.

The 5G opportunity will far outweigh 4G since the applicability of the new technology will be across verticals and industries instead of only providing high-speed internet connectivity offered by 4G, he said. While 4G was able to connect over 130 million people on 2G networks to the internet through low-cost 4G devices which happened at a fast pace, 5G use cases will be more spread out and hence will take longer to come to fore.

“In the case of 5G, we are talking about metaverse, smart cities, industry 4.0, as well as multiple dimensions. So, I will say there is so much yet to be done on 5G globally as well as locally." He said new use cases would see the commercialization of 5G sooner rather than later. A primary use case of 5G was fixed wireless access (FWA), which is being considered as wireless fibre for providing broadband connectivity to homes.

Qualcomm is consciously working towards making 5G smartphones more affordable, despite macroeconomic headwinds such as high inflation and prices and the volatility in the availability of semiconductors, he added.

“Making 5G affordable is a theme Qualcomm is working on globally. People like us, who are basically giving the basic processor and peripherals, are making sure that we consciously move towards making this more affordable. As proof of this, the entry 5G chip was priced two tiers lower than the topmost tier at the concurrent time, which was never done before."

Vagadia said that prices of 5G smartphones would come down as volumes rise, even as consumers are ready to spend far more to support their preference for large-screen devices with more firepower and higher camera quality.

Talking about investments in India, the Qualcomm veteran said the firm has started focusing on startups in the semiconductor design space under a new programme. “We are nurturing, supporting, engaging with startups and incubating startups to help them scale by leveraging our capabilities on our platforms. We are using current funds, and we’re enhancing investments," he said.

Qualcomm created a $150 million India-specific fund under its venture capital arm Qualcomm Ventures, which has incubated 89 startups and taken over 30 products to the commercial market. They have together raised more than $280 million, he added.

He added that Qualcomm was also working with local Indian companies to help them transform into original design manufacturers or ODMs, rather than solely being contract manufacturers, which will help them move up the value chain. “It’s very important for us that India is not just a manufacturing base, but it’s a design and manufacturing base," he said. Qualcomm recently partnered with HFCL to design and develop 5G outdoor small cell products, which will enable faster rollout of 5G networks, improved 5G user experience and more efficient utilization of the 5G spectrum.

Gulveen Aulakh
Gulveen Aulakh is Senior Assistant Editor at Mint, serving dual roles covering the disinvestment landscape out of New Delhi, and the telecom & IT sectors as part of the corporate bureau. She had been tracking several government ministries for the last ten years in her previous stint at The Economic Times. An IIM Calcutta alumnus, Gulveen is fluent in French, a keen learner of new languages and avid foodie.
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Updated: 21 Mar 2023, 12:39 AM IST
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