WiMAX USB dongles, currently priced between $60 and $85, are too high to generate significant volumes. So says Raj Singh, CEO of Wavesat, a privately-held fabless chipset supplier headquartered in Canada.

“We’re aiming for $35 WiMAX dongles by Q1 2010, and CPE devices at around $50,” he says.

Wavesat doesn’t manufacture devices, but rather supplies chipsets to OEMs and ODMs, the majority of which are based in Taiwan. The focus of Singh is to lower silicon costs that will enable cheaper devices to come onto the market.

“We’re getting more aggressive with Silicon geometrics and we aim to have a half-node 55nm solution available this August as we move from 65nm,” says Singh.

Wavesat’s growth strategy revolves around its ‘multimode 4G architecture’, dubbed the Odyssey platform. The company’s baseband chipset is software-programmable to mobile WiMAX or XG-PHS. (XG-PHS is the next-generation PHS (personally handyphone system) standard, which has been adopted by Willcom, a PHS operator in Japan.) Plans are also afoot to make the Odyssey platform software-programmable to LTE by April 2009.

To help fund the evolution of the Odyssey platform to more dense silicon, Wavesat recently raised nearly C$12m from private investors.

Despite the economic downturn, Singh is sticking to his target set mid-2008 that Wavesat can ship between 6-7 million units this year.He is not confident, however, there will be much of a market for MIDs (mobile internet devices), even though they are being heavily promoted by US chip giant Intel at the MWC event in Barcelona. That’s because Singh believes netbooks, being slightly bigger, will lessen the attraction of MIDs for those looking for more screen space than a smartphone.

“The [handset] device market is bifurcating between low-cost devices and smartphones,” adds Singh. “If you play in the middle, neither offering a low-cost device or a smartphone, then you can suffer, as Motorola has.”