Race to get LTE modems to market intensifies

Two alliances have been formed to get LTE modems to market by the end of the year.

Chip maker ST-Ericsson will work with devices and services company Sagem Wireless to launch multimode LTE/HSPA+ products this year. Separately, technology provider IPWireless will work with Altair Semiconductor to develop multiband LTE modems.
Under the Sagem/ST-Ericsson deal, the two companies will develop reference designs, devices and modules that can connect to LTE, HSPA+, 3G and GSM networks.

The resultant Sagem dongles are intended to handle downlink speeds of up to 100Mbit/s over LTE networks and 21Mbit/s over HSPA+ networks. Sagem also wants to use the technology to build modules for laptops, netbooks, tablet computers, and machine-to-machine applications.
Yves Portalier, executive vice president, strategic planning of Sagem Wireless, said: "ST-Ericsson's single family of platforms will enable Sagem Wireless to produce a wide range of devices faster and more cost-effectively than if we had to juggle multiple incompatible platforms."
Pascal Langlois, senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer of ST-Ericsson, said: "We have developed our multimode platform to enable people to connect to the best available mobile network wherever they are, whether that be with LTE, HSPA+, 3G or GSM, switching between different access technologies effortlessly and seamlessly."

Meanwhile IPWireless, which offers 3GPP technology, and Altair Semiconductor, an LTE chipset company, have agreed jointly to develop a suite of multiband LTE modems that will support the key frequency bands necessary in a product for global markets. The alliance will integrate Altair's software-defined-radio baseband processor into IPWireless's LTE devices.

The first product will be an LTE USB modem that supports frequency bands including the 800MHz digital-dividend band, 1800MHz and 2.5GHz. Subsequent products will add support for the US 700MHz and AWS bands. The dongles should be on the market by the end of the year.

Malcolm Gordon, chief operating officer of IPWireless, said: "By partnering with Altair Semiconductor to develop LTE modem devices, we are providing mobile operators and their customers with a high-performance, low-power solution that will satisfy the needs of consumers as LTE networks are deployed globally."

IPWireless's LTE device will incorporate Altair's baseband and RFIC chipsets as well as the company's own technology. The Altair LTE baseband processor supports 100Mbit/s downlink, 50Mbit/s uplink speeds, has a 20MHz MIMO receiver and uses a software-defined-radio processor. The chipset supports FDD as well as TDD versions of the LTE standard and has already undergone interoperability testing. The Altair wideband FDD/TDD radio IC covers any 3GPP LTE frequency band from 700MHz to 2700MHz.

In addition to Altair's chipsets, IPWireless's LTE devices will use a custom-designed multi-band MIMO antenna that will improve both cell-edge and peak-rate performance.

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