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Ericsson HSPA modules to duel witth Qualcomm, Intel's WiMAX

Posted: 24 Sep 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX? GPS chip? HSPA modules?

Ericsson AB has developed its first module to bring high-speed cellular data to notebooks and other client devices, challenging a market where Qualcomm reigns and crossing swords with Intel which is promoting WiMAX adoption. The Swedish base station giant aims to accelerate adoption of cellular data use, especially in laptops and home routers.

The Ericsson F3507 module delivers High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) at rates of 7.2Mbps for a downlink and 2Mbps for an uplink. The mini PCI device includes a third-party GPS chip and consumes a total 2W peak.

Ericsson aims to compete on price with Qualcomm when the modules ship in January. The company would not disclose its target price yet, but said its strong patent position and use of mainly in-house chips would make its costs significantly lower than competitors such as Novatel and Sierra Wireless who buy chips and pay significant royalties to Qualcomm.

The Swedish company has its own microelectronics division that supplies chips to as many as 20 cellular handset makers including its sister company Sony Ericsson. It hopes as many as 50 percent of notebook computers adopt HSPA modules by 2011 and that it can become the leading supplier of those modules.

In addition to notebooks, Ericsson is aiming the modules at a variety of OEMs including makers of home Internet routers and gateways that use cellular in areas not served by DSL. The company will offer OEMs access to its pre-certification testing services for the chips, modules and full-fledged systems using them.

Decisive move
The shift to flat rate pricing for HSPA services is driving growth for the business with carriers such as AT&T in the U.S. and others in Austria, Italy and Sweden, said Victoria Eklund, director of marketing for modules at Ericsson.

The move is a strategic one for Ericsson which hopes a rise in mobile data clients generates more opportunities for its core network switching business.

Ericsson announced the modules at the Intel Developer Forum last week where Intel is promoting the use of WiMax as an ideal candidate for next-generation mobile Internet devices.

At IDF, Intel said it will ship in 2008 its Echo Peak chip set that supports both Wi-Fi and WiMax. Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Panasonic and Toshiba announced they will use the chip set in notebooks shipping in mid-2008.

"WiMax, from our perspective, is the network most of these mobile devices will be connected on," said Intel CEO Paul Otellini in his keynote.

Carriers are engaged in as many as 120 WiMAX trials, up from just ten trials last year, Otellini said. Intel has invested with carrier KDDI to enable a WiMax deployment in Japan, he added.

The number of potential users covered by WiMax deployments will rise from 150 people in 2008 to 750 million in 2010, he added.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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