SAN FRANCISCO — A report that Apple is in talks to acquire part of Intel's modem chip business is likely to jumpstart speculation that Apple is laying the groundwork for designing its own modem device for use in its iPhones and other products that feature cellular connectivity.

A report Tuesday by The Information, a tech news site, indicates that Apple remains in talks to buy the portion of Intel's modem business that is based in Germany. The German operations make up the bulk of the modem business that Intel acquired from Infineon Technologies for $1.4 billion in 2011.


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The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Apple was in talks to buy Intel's 5G modem business after Apple and Qualcomm struck a deal to settle all litigation between them. Those talks reportedly broke down without a deal being reached.

Apple was believed to be the sole customer for Intel’s delayed 5G modem, and Intel announced its intention to exit the business shortly after Apple and Qualcomm buried the hatchet.

Tuesday's report indicates that Apple may still be moving forward with the goal of acquiring a specific portion of the business.

It is widely thought that Apple has been considering an effort to add integrated cellular modems to its A Series applications processors. Such a move would be consistent with the types of chips most of its handset rivals use, which feature processors with integrated modems. 

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Apple's relationship with longtime supplier Qualcomm went sour two years ago over allegations of exorbitant royalty rates and unfair business practices. The April deal between the two companies included an undisclosed payment from Apple to Qualcomm in exchange for a six-year license to Qualcomm's patents and an option for a two-year extension. The two companies also announced a multi-year chip supply agreement at that time.

In February, during the height of the Apple-Qualcomm dispute, Apple was actively adding design engineers with cellular modem experience in San Diego, where Qualcomm is headquartered. It was widely believed at that time that Apple was looking to hire cellular designers in an effort to add integrated cellular modems to its A Series processors.