San Diego Business Journal

After San Diego job postings stoked rumors that Apple Inc. might look to develop its own modems, a recent restructuring at the company may indicate Apple is serious.

According to Reuters, Apple shifted its modem chip engineering work from its supply chain unit into its hardware technology group. The anonymously-sourced report said Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, began leading the company’s modem design in January.

In the past, Apple has sourced its modems from Qualcomm Inc., and more recently turned to Intel as its main supplier. The tiny chips allow smartphones to connect to a wireless network.

Until 2015, San Diego-based Qualcomm served as Apple’s sole supplier of modems. In 2016, the iPhone-maker began phasing in Intel Corp.’s chips. Its newest models don’t use Qualcomm’s chips at all, since the two companies began a lengthy legal battle over licensing fees and IP rights.

Developing its own chips would be costly and time-consuming, but could save Apple critical space in its devices, Reuters wrote.

Apple is continuing to post local jobs for cellular modems systems architects, wireless software engineers and other roles in its silicon technologies and hardware technology engineering groups. The company plans to open a new site in San Diego, where it will hire 1,000 engineers in the next three years, likely tapping the talent pool of current and former Qualcomm engineers.

Though Apple hasn’t confirmed the location of the planned office, or what functions it will hold, the San Diego Business Journal tracked down a building in UTC that Apple is expected to lease.