Qualcomm Chip Could Allow Apple to Embrace LTE & China Mobile

Qualcomm's GobiQualcomm has announced the next generation of its Gobi line of wireless modems-on-a-chip. The fifth generation MDM9615 and MDM9215 chips include support for most of the variants of LTE that are being implemented around the world, as well as most of the existing 3G networks already in use. It might even allow Apple to embrace LTE and even bring China Mobile on board as an iPhone carrier.

From Qualcomm’s press release: Qualcomm’s latest Gobi 4G LTE connectivity reference platform includes embedded GPS capability and features an application programming interface (API) with LTE extensions, which is compatible with leading connectivity standards, including CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B, HSPA+, dual-carrier HSPA+, TD-SCDMA and LTE, with integrated backwards compatibility to HSPA and EV-DO.”

In its announcement, which was delivered at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Spain, Qualcomm specifically singled out Windows 8 and Android as operating systems for which its new Gobi processors were designed. That said, Apple currently uses Qualcomm modems in its iPhone smartphones, and Apple is known for wanting to control the message when it comes to its technology partners.

In addition to that, analysts with Trefis issued a report on Tuesday that points out that new chip supports the CDMA variant used by China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, with hundreds of millions of customers. It also supports the version of LTE that China Mobile is implementing. This is on top of the chip supporting the 3G and LTE networks used by Apple’s existing carrier partners in the world.

As such, Qualcomm has the chip that Apple could use to make one iPhone that it can then deploy with any and all of its carrier partners, as well as the biggest plum the company has not yet picked, China Mobile.

As noted above, Qualcomm isn’t touting support for iOS or even mentioning Apple by name. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to. The company will either keep Apple as a customer or it won’t. Today’s announcement was aimed at the myriad of companies duking it out on Android and Windows Phone/Windows 8.

We should also note that even if these specific modems aren’t intended for use in Apple’s iOS devices, the company clearly has the technology to make a modem that would allow Apple to move to bring on China Mobile and support LTE, too.