Apple Allegedly Pursuing MediaTek LTE Modems As Qualcomm Legal Fight Intensifies

Amid an escalating legal battle between two technology giants, it seems that Apple would like nothing more than to sever ties with Qualcomm in the construction of its iPhone and iPad products. Apple relies on Qualcomm to supply high-speed LTE models for its mobile gadgets, but has been looking at Intel to replace at least some of its orders. Now it's being reported that Apple has MediaTek on the radar as well.

According to Digitimes, Apple has already switched half of its baseband modem chipset orders from Qualcomm to Intel, though the last we heard (in October) nothing was yet official. Industry sources tell the news and rumor outlet that Apple is now seeking additional modem chip capacity from MediaTek, further lessening its dependence on Qualcomm as the two companies continue to duke it out in court.

The dispute between Apple and Qualcomm began around a year ago when Apple cooperated with foreign law enforcement agencies that had filed antitrust litigation against Qualcomm.  According to Apple, Qualcomm responded by withholding nearly $1 billion in payments owed. The company also accused Qualcomm of "unfairly...charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with."

It has been a back and forth between the companies ever since, with Qualcomm subsequently suing Apple for allegedly sharing confidential chip software to Intel. The spat took an interesting turn earlier this week when U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins slapped Apple with sanctions for being slow in turning over documents that were requested in the FTC's lawsuit against Qualcomm. The judge set the fine at $25,000 per day for each day Apple fails to produce the requested documents.

Apple's desire to move on from Qualcomm as a supplier of LTE modems is seemingly motivated entirely by the ongoing legal rift between the two. That said, industry watchers claim MediaTek is a desirable partner for Apple because of its leading technological competitiveness, comprehensive product blueprints, and reliable logistics support.