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Qualcomm sparks up low-end LTE market with new chipset.

Robert Clark

September 11, 2014

3 Min Read
Qualcomm Paves Way for Sub-$100 4G Phones

Qualcomm has entered the low-end LTE market with the launch of a new chipset aimed at putting sub-$100 4G phones onto the market.

Citing industry forecasts of growth shifting sharply to developing economies, it announced its Snapdragon 210 processor in Hong Kong Wednesday, and also pitched its ability to deliver key technologies in the emerging auto, connected home and IoT segments.

However, executives avoided being drawn on the anti-trust probe into Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s licensing practices now underway in Beijing. (See Qualcomm Looks to Soften China Antitrust Blow .)

Cristiano Amon, co-president of Qualcomm Technologies, said the new chipset was the first to "bring LTE to the 3G entry level price level." He expects the first devices to be on the market in the first half of 2015.

The processor offers seven different LTE bands, VoLTE, carrier aggregation, LTE Broadcast and HEVC video. In a nod to developing markets, it also supports multi-SIM.

Amon said the developing world accounted for 46% of smartphones shipped last year and was expected to absorb 80% of shipments in 2018.

Despite the strong sales, just 17% of the population in those markets own a smartphone today. "We just know that that's going to go to 100%," he said in a speech at a company event.

He argues that the transition to 4G is occurring much faster than the shift to 3G a decade ago. He said operators were reporting 4G users were typically consuming at least three or four times more data than on 3G, even on the same price plan. "LTE is completely rebooting the mobile landscape," he noted.

Want to know more about 4G LTE? Check out our dedicated 4G LTE content channel here on Light Reading.

Murthy Renduchintala, the other co-president of Qualcomm Technologies, also brought some impressive forecasts, such as the number of 3G and 4G connections, expected to quintuple to 5.2 billion by 2018.

"There's clearly a hell of a lot of growth," which would "drive new user experiences and new technologies," Renduchintala said.

He said the automobile would likely become "the next frontier for connected platforms," with 60% of vehicles by 2017 connecting through mobile technologies.

Within the car, a brace of wireless technologies would be required. Besides an LTE mobile hotspot, location, multimedia, wireless charging, WiFi, Bluetooth and power management tech would be deployed.

Pointing to the emergence of the smart home and IoT, he said success would require mastery of a multitude of radio technologies as well as the ability to handle the "increasingly close integration of licensed and unlicensed spectrum."

Qualcomm is looking at services and architectures that would enable seamless transition from home to outdoor, he said. "We're going to put WiFi into things that have never had any connectivity."

Asked about the anti-monopoly investigation, Amon said this was an issue for the parent company, which manages Qualcomm's licensing business.

He declined to comment on how the issue had affected Qualcomm's OEM relationships in China, but he noted that China's OEM system had recorded "very impressive" growth and that Qualcomm was "very, very happy to be a part of this very vibrant ecosystem."

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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