Comms chips

Sequans Gets VC for LTE

The magic letters "LTE" have unlocked fresh funding for chip designer Sequans Communications , with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Motorola Ventures leading the round as strategic investors. (See Sequans Secures Funding.)

The Paris-based company has largely been know as a WiMax shop, but it recently announced plans to develop Long Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax chips in tandem. Sequans says the new money will go toward its LTE development fund.

"We're developing a SOC [system-on-a-chip] for the terminal side," Sequans CEO Georges Karam tells Unstrung. "The first devices for next year are likely USB dongles and data cards." Sequans now plans to accelerate its LTE development times and to add to its LTE teams. It also intends to demonstrate its first LTE samples in early 2010 in support of pre-commercial operator trials.

"Commercial launch we’re expecting for the end of next year," Karam says.

The CEO says that at the moment developing a similar LTE product for the base station market isn't on the company's roadmap. He doesn't rule it out, however, noting that the first wave of LTE infrastructure will be "macro base stations," which isn't where he sees the market going over time.

"You will need to look for a picocell base station architecture to support high capacity for LTE," Karam states. "We still have some time to make up our mind if we want to do this, although it is likely we will."

Sequans isn't disclosing exactly how much it got in this round. The company has always been somewhat cagey about revealing how much money it gets from long-time strategic investors like Alcatel-Lucent and Motorola.

"Let's just say it's significant and is enough to fund our LTE development," Karam notes.

In the past the firm has seen rounds in the $35 million range, though funding has grown more scarce on the ground for all in the last couple of years. (See Friday Funding Roundup.)

This may be starting to change in the mobile sector, however. Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) recently managed to score an extra $1.5 billion from most of its standing investors. Evernote Corp. , IPWireless Inc. , and Picochip , meanwhile, all grabbed money this week. (See Clearwire's $1.5B Top-Up Confirmed , PicoChip Bags $20M, Plans IPO, and IPWireless Bags $15.5M.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

IPobserver 12/5/2012 | 3:52:23 PM
re: Sequans Gets VC for LTE

TD-LTE is the obvious first step given the WiMax history, although combined FDD/TDD operation will be needed sooner rather than later.

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