EETimes.com – At least two more WiMax handsets coming in 2010

EETimes.com – At least two more WiMax handsets coming in 2010.


EE Times

SAN JOSE, Calif. — At least two more WiMax handsets are expected to emerge this year, according to the company that designed silicon inside the EVO 4G handset recently announced by Sprint. They will be joined by prototype phones for the Long Term Evolution (LTE) network that will be demonstrated by China Mobile in May, said an executive for Sequans Communications.The handsets represent early versions of a generation of so-called 4G mobile devices. They aim to deliver data rates from 10 to 100 Mbits/second, enabling new video communications and streaming capabilities.

Sprint showed the EVO 4G handset made by Taiwan’s HTC downloading up to 11 Mbits/second of data and uploading an average 2.5 Mbits/s on a production network at the CTIA show in Las Vegas. “I have a cable modem at home that gets about those numbers,” said Craig Miller, vice president of marketing and business development at Sequans which supplied its SQN1210 WiMax baseband chip for the handset.

“We have at least two other handset OEMs in various levels of design” with the WiMax baseband, said Miller. “They are tier one and two recognizable names,” he said.

In mid-March, Sequans announced it was about to sample its first LTE chip as well, a device geared for use on the Time Division Duplex LTE network in development at China Mobile. “Realistically, meaningful network build outs are 18 months out” for the LTE networks, said Miller.

Video communications and streaming will be key applications for the new handsets. The Sprint phone uses front- and back-panel cameras to enable video conferencing and a 720-progressive 4.3-inch screen to play streaming video.

The design challenges ahead include lowering power consumption and cost for the handsets that are expected to use both 4G nets for data and 3G for voice. But Miller argued against integrating 3G and 4G basebands.

“You can build a 3G world phone today support four or five frequency bands, but LTE needs another five or six bands,” Miller said. “The sheer RF complexity gets out of hand because merging that in one chip is enormously complex and you end up paying for bands you will not use,” he said.

The EVO 4G phone, for example, uses the Sequans WiMax baseband for data and a Qualcomm CDMA baseband for voice traffic. Analyst Satish Menon of Forward Concepts criticized the early dual-mode architecture as inefficient, creating a five second delay on the handset for traffic passed between the two nets.

“We’re not handing off a voice call from WiMax to CDMA or back again so you are not suffering,” said Miller. In terms of data, “you can maintain an IP connection across a far larger latency,” he added.

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Separate chip for data and voice seems to be a good approach. Sequan is providing data baseband, but so called voice baseband provider will integrate data together as a single chip solution, not in the same Si, but integrating using SIP or TSV. In any approach, that is separate chip or integrated chip, 3G voice will be there for a long time for voice. Cellular is good for voice as it started to support the voice. Meanwhile, IP based communication, such as Wimax, is good for data. The competition for 3G modem will be fierce, and only a few can survive in the end.

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