What Is Broadcom's LTE Strategy?

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) is playing its strategy for Long Term Evolution (LTE) close to its chest, even as it starts to hire engineers to develop the proto-4G silicon.

Unstrung asked the company where it is with LTE on Tuesday. "Our mobile group is working on several 3G and 4G technologies," a company spokesperson told us.

"As a rule, we do not announce new developments until they reach the product stage. At this point, we are not ready to discuss LTE publicly."

The company is, however, currently advertising for a principal systems engineer for help "developing solutions supporting the next generation of 3G and 4G high-speed mobile technologies." The engineer would work on "the development of new technology such as LTE" as well as advanced 3G systems. (See 4G or Not 4G?)

So, clearly, it is cooking something up. "Broadcom obviously has to be working on an LTE strategy -- they're just not telling anyone about it yet," says Joseph Byrne, analyst at The Linley Group .

Byrne suspects that part of the reason that Broadcom isn't talking about LTE yet is because it is still hard at work delivering on a 3G contract with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and an EDGE deal for Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC). "Nokia is just now starting to ship," he notes. (See Did Qualcomm Really Win?)

Broadcom's major rival in this space, Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), meanwhile, said recently that it will deliver its first engineering samples of LTE silicon intended for data cards in the third quarter of this year. (See Qualcomm LTE Slip Could Mean Data Card Delays .) — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

lrmobile_ArunD 12/5/2012 | 3:59:10 PM
re: What Is Broadcom's LTE Strategy?

Hi Dan, one possibility is a partnership with Altair Semiconductor. Altair has insisted that they've got a partner to bring a multi-mode LTE+2G/3G platform to market. It is easy to deduce who it could be by elimination: Qualcomm/ST-Ericsson obviously have no reason to help and it can't be Infineon because they have emphasized multi-mode RF chips while Altair has engineered their own RF chips saying they couldn't achieve a full solution otherwise.

This leaves two plausible options: Broacom and Mediatek. Notice the latter hasn't talked much about LTE either. I'd give a 45% chance to Mediatek, 40% to Broadcom, and a 10% chance they're both involved. Altair seems to be focusing on TD-LTE more than FD-LTE in the short-term, and this would make a lot of sense with Mediatek: combine this chip with Altair's solution and you've got a nice platform for China Mobile: http://www.mediatek.com/en/pro...

Of course, the leader for TD-SCDMA and now also TD-LTE remains ST-Ericsson via its T3G fully-owned subsidiary (which used to be a partially owned subsidiary of NXP and uses their EVP16 architecture which now seems to have been discontinued in other divisions of the company). It's also not clear to me how much China Mobile cares about multi-mode TD-SCDMA+TD-LTE given that their entire strategy seems to be about software upgradable basestations that should be easy to migrate to LTE.

alexglee 12/5/2012 | 3:58:59 PM
re: What Is Broadcom's LTE Strategy? Are there any IPR issues in case Broadcom is going to compete with Qualcomm?

IPR licensing candidate analysis for LTE baseband products in the lists of patents declared essential to LTE appear at the ETSI IPR Online by TechIPm, LLC shows that there are 94 issued patents and 231 published patent applications in the United States as of July 31, 2009.

As for the issued patents, Qualcomm is the leader in IPR shares (27 %) followed by Nortel (26 %) and Nokia (22 %).

As for the published patent applications, Qualcomm is also the leader in IPR shares (35 %) followed by Samsung (14 %), and Nokia (13 %).
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