Qualcomm Puts GPS on Chip
The chip is aimed at the third-generation cell phone market, which seeks more features and faster data speed.
Qualcomm on Monday introduced a cellular chip with a built-in global positioning system and a technology that promises to increase data speed in response to consumers seeking phones that can handle a growing number of tasks.
The company developed the transceiver chip, RTR6285, which allows people to make and receive calls, to target the third-generation phone market. Handset makers and network operators expect to see the 3G market finally take off as more consumers use their cell phones for data-intensive tasks, such as downloading video and music and sending photos to friends.
The GPS feature is currently available on high-end handsets, but companies such as Qualcomm hope to popularize it in the mainstream market.
The chip “will enable device manufacturers to cost-effectively develop global handsets with small and slim form-factors, while enabling increased capacity and throughput for network operators with integrated receive diversity,” said Sanjay K. Jha, president of Qualcomm’s CDMA technologies.
Receive diversity captures multiple radio signals to improve reception, meaning consumers can expect fewer dropped calls. The tech also allows more data to reach handset users at one time and increases the network capacity by 50 percent, Qualcomm said. Qualcomm plans to start sending sample chips to potential customers in the fourth quarter of this year.
The company isn’t the only one using the multiple antennas to boost signal strength and data speed. Magnolia Broadband, a startup based in Bedminster, New Jersey, has developed a chipset that performs signal processing and transmit diversity, which uses multiple antennas to send radio signals, or make calls, from the cell phones (see Magnolia Broadband Raises $14M).
The company, which aims to put its chips in 2G and 3G handsets, plans to start shipping the chipsets to customers in the third quarter. Magnolia had developed a chip with receive diversity, but decided later to focus on transmit diversity so that it wouldn’t compete directly with Qualcomm, said Larry Wasylin, vice president of sales and marketing at Magnolia.
About 51 percent of Qualcomm’s revenue comes from licensing its cellular technologies to handset and wireless equipment makers. Its WCDMA technology will become widely adopted for 3G phones and networks. It’s facing lawsuits from several chip, handset, and equipment makers, including Texas Instruments and Nokia over its licensing practices (see Qualcomm Faces Antitrust Woes). Qualcomm also has sued some of them for allegedly using Qualcomm’s technologies without paying for them (see Qualcomm Sues Nokia). In its first fiscal quarter ending December 2005, Qualcomm posted 21 percent higher net income of $620 million on 25 percent higher revenue of $1.74 billion.