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An Intel executive confirmed that the company is on schedule to ship its newest LTE wireless data modem later this month in a move to challenge Qualcomm’s leadership in the vast mobile data networking chip market.
Aicha Evans, Intel’s vice president and general manager of wireless platforms research and development, said in a press briefing that Intel’s chip set for multimode 4GLTE is on schedule to ship to customers this month.
The market for 4GLTE devices is expected to be huge, as a billion mobile phones are shipping every year.
Evans said she believes that LTE data networking will deliver the first Internet experience for many people in the world who depend on mobile phones for all of their computing.
Intel has been working on wireless for some time, particularly since it acquired the wireless division of Infineon some years ago. But it has been behind incumbent Qualcomm.
“This is the first time that anyone in the industry is rooting for us to succeed, because of [the need for] plurality,” Evans said.
In some countries, LTE networks will coexist with other kinds of multi-mode GSM networks.
Evans said that her goal is to see that African fishermen should be able to afford the network data access on their cellphones before companies can really brag that LTE costs are low enough.
The benefits of having good LTE include having high-speed wireless data networking include better performance for high-definition video and music streaming, video conferencing, gaming, and downloads. Voice carried over the LTE data network could also be more efficient than carrying it over the circuit-switched network.
But adoption will happen quicker if the industry can deal with band fragmentation, as there are more than 30 different LTE wireless spectrum bands worldwide. The lack of competition, device cost, power consumption, coexistence with other networks, and the ability to roam freely will be big challenges.
“We think the lack of competition is a big deal,” she said. “The barrier to entry in this space is high. Chip set diversity and plurality are key.”
Intel’s XMM7160 chip can handle 15 LTE bands. It has 20 percent to 30 percent less power consumption than rival chips, Intel said. It is 12 percent smaller as a chip and works across multiple devices.
In a demo, Intel showed what the chip could do under ideal conditions. Of course, ideal conditions don’t exist in the real world and the network would likely be a lot slower. But the company said it could download data at 103 megabits a second and upload data at 49 megabits per second. That was fast enough to run three simultaneous video conferences at the same time.
Intel is launching its XMM7260 next-generation LTE chip in the first half of 2014.