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UQ puts Beceem WiMAX chips on trial

Beceem Communications, a fabless semiconductor company exclusively focused on producing chipsets for mobile WiMAX devices, will be involved UQ Communications’ mobile WiMAX trials in Japan, which are scheduled to start later this month.

The supplier’s 65nm single chip mobile WiMAX solution is enabling USB dongles and PC cards developed by NEC Access Technica. Both companies say they have worked closely with UQ over the past 12 months to optimise the performance of UQ’s WiMAX network and devices.

“The UQ network launch, which is the first WiMAX network to use the innovative fractional frequency reuse (FFR) pattern, presented an opportunity for mobile WiMAX chip makers to showcase how advanced algorithms can increase spectral efficiency and coverage reliability of a mobile broadband network,” says Babu Mandava, CEO of Beceem. “Beceem was fortunate to have one of the leading Japanese device partners in NEC Access Technica while working closely with UQ to meet this challenge, and to ensure that our devices provide the highest performance and consume the least power.”

UQ Communications, which counts Samsung ands Intel among its investors, is scheduled to launch commercial mobile WiMAX services in Japan this summer using 30MHz of spectrum in the 2.5GHz band.

Beceem’s chipsets are already being used by Clearwire in the US, via the WiMAX USB dongle manufactured by Chinese vendor ZTE.

Last month, Beceem formalised a partnership with Franklin Wireless to develop a dual-mode EV-DO/WiMAX dongle, the first version being commercially launched by Sprint in December 2008.

In late 2006, Beceem launched what it claimed to be the world’s first Wave 2 compliant Mobile WiMAX chipset in the market. “We subsequently set the MIMO application layer speed record at 33Mbps and nobody has been able to do that as of today,” Lars Johnsson, VP of business development at Beceem, told WiMAX Vision. “Our nearest competitor does 25Mbps.”

Beceem produces 65nm WiMAX chipsets with in-built triband radio covering all the standardised WiMAX frequency bands: 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz. Johnsson adds that Beceem has done ‘very deep IOT” with ten base station vendors, including Alcatel-Lucent, Alvarion, Motorola, NEC, Samsung and ZTE. “These factors combined,” says Johnsson, “give us a lot of leverage with the ODMs in Taiwan, which can address a global market with Beceem chips.”

Despite the gloom surrounding the chipset market with the prospect of lower demand for phones, laptops and netbooks in the wake of the credit crunch, Johnsson is confident that 2009 can still be a good year for Beceem. “Clearwire will bode well for us in 2009.” he says. “Last year the market for mobile WiMAX chipsets was around one million units across all suppliers, but this year we expect that to go up to four or maybe five million, and we’re looking to get a 50 percent share of that. We stand to profit from that very nicely.”

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