Senior Director, Business Development, Qualcomm: “The defining challenge of LTE in 2013 will be band fragmentation”

Following the successful LTE Awards 2013, we speak to Ben Timmons, Senior Director, Business Development for Qualcomm, winners of the category, ‘Best Chipset / Processor Product’ with its  Qualcomm- RF360 Front End Solution.

Tell us more about your entry for the LTE Awards 2013.

Qualcomm Technologies aims to simplify mobility. As it takes multiple versions of every LTE device to support the worldwide proliferation of cellular radio bands – with 44 already and counting – it’s a complex and unavoidable problem for which Qualcomm Technologies wanted to create a solution.

We wanted to bring a comprehensive system-level solution to the number one problem in designing global LTE devices – band fragmentation. The Qualcomm RF360 radically simplifies the radio frequency front-end making it possible to create one truly global design that uses less power for longer battery life, reduces development time and costs, all while improving performance.

What do you think made your entry stand out from the crowd?

The Qualcomm RF360 front end solution is a comprehensive, system-level solution that is designed to solve the largest problem in LTE device design – band fragmentation. It enables a single, global 4G LTE design for mobile devices. The Qualcomm RF front end solution comprises a family of chips designed from the ground up as a system to mitigate band fragmentation, while improving RF performance and helping OEMs more easily develop multiband, multimode mobile devices that support all major cellular technologies.

It is the first solution designed to enable global LTE roaming, while delivering superior battery life and radio performance. This RF front end solution includes the mobile industry’s first modem assisted envelope power tracker for 3G/4G LTE mobile devices and dynamic antenna matching tuner. It also includes a single-chip power amplifier-plus antenna switch, and an innovative 3D-RF packaging solution incorporating key front end components.

How will your product evolve and improve in the future?

Like all of our RF solutions, we will evolve the Qualcomm RF360 solution over time to continue addressing the need for extended RF band support in a single mobile device. The band fragmentation problem will get worse before it gets better, but we have anticipated and factored this into our product planning. And while our RF front-end solution is initially aimed at high-end products, like Snapdragon 800 and Gobi MDM9x25, the Qualcomm RF360 can scale from the high to low tier and do for LTE what penta-band did for WCDMA and quad-band did for GSM – create large economies of scale for LTE multimode devices.

What trends do you see ahead for the industry for the next 12 months?

We’ll continue to see carriers battling it out across the globe between who can offer the LTE network size vs. LTE network speed and how best their marketing can help attract customers. There will be 915 million LTE subscribers by the end of 2016 according to Think Tank, IDATE, so there’s plenty up for grabs. LTE-Advanced will continue to gain traction, although we’re unlikely to see wide scale deployments just yet. We’re also excited about what LTE Broadcast will bring to the industry. It offers mobile network operators a profitable business proposition through service differentiation and new revenue opportunities and will bring more efficient distribution of live and digital media.

What are the biggest challenges the lie ahead for LTE?

The defining challenge of LTE in 2013 will continue to be band fragmentation, as carrier aggregation demand will take the RF challenge and opportunity to the next level. Our RF solution will enable OEMs to retain the benefits of the Qualcomm RF360 front-end, while addressing the immense opportunity for carrier aggregation, which is supported in our WTR1625 transceiver – the mobile industry’s first RF solution for carrier aggregation.

What impact has winning this award had for your business?

Qualcomm spent $4bn cumulatively on R&D in FY12 and we are keen to raise the profile of Qualcomm’s innovative work within the global LTE community. Winning this award in particular will help achieve this by gaining exposure and visibility, which ultimately will help Qualcomm attract more OEMs to the solution.

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