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Comms chips

Qualcomm's WLAN Shoe Drops

Cellular chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has finally joined the Wi-Fi Alliance as it prepares 802.11 modules for its 3G multimedia chipsets. (See Qualcomm Integrates WLAN.)

Qualcomm has taken a while to integrate 802.11 into its product line -- the firm first started talking ro Unstrung about such work back in 2002. (See WLAN/WAN, Thank You Qualcomm? and The Long Wait for WLAN/WAN.) But analysts say that the move to join the Forum was all but inevitable as new converged smartphones for the enterprise and high-end consumer market that combine cellular and WLAN access come on stream.

"They really had little choice," says Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. "It is clear that more and more feature phones will have WiFi connectivity included, specifically for VOIP capability, but ultimately for data as well. "If Qualcomm want to remain competitive in selling their CDMA chip solutions to phone makers, they have to include WiFi capability. I guess they could do so without joining the WiFi alliance, but that doesn’t really make sense, since they get branding, interoperability, and other potential benefits by joining. This is simply a realization of the dominance of WiFi for a growing class of users which Qualcomm wants to serve."

And Craig Mathias, analyst at the Farpoint Group adds that the Qualcomm is a fillip for dualmode devices in general.

"They clearly see WiFi as a strategic direction," he says. "All of this reinforces the momentum behind fixed/mobile and mobile/mobile convergence -- a good sign for the industry and end-users alike."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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