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As if it weren’t already a dominant player in communications chips, Qualcomm confirmed today that it will buy Atheros for $3.1 billion in a move to solidify its foothold.

The move positions Qualcomm as a powerhouse in Wi-Fi wireless networking chips, helping it secure its position as a leader in communications chips. San Diego, Calif.-based Qualcomm already has a huge position in chips for cell phones, and this deal gives it an edge in computer networking and consumer electronics as well. The deal is slightly less than the $3.5 billion figur ethat the New York Times reported yesterday.

With the acquisition, rivals such as Intel, Broadcom and Marvell will find it harder to challenge Qualcomm in communications. Presumably, Qualcomm will be able to combine computer networking and cellular communications chips into single devices. The deal is subject to closing conditions such as shareholder approval.

“It is Qualcomm’s strategy to continually integrate additional technologies into mobile devices to make them the primary way that people communicate, compute and access content,” said Paul Jacobs, chief executive of Qualcomm, in a statement. “This acquisition is a natural extension of that strategy into other types of devices.”

Atheros chief executive Craig H. Barratt is expected to join Qualcomm as president of Qualcomm Networking & Connectivity.

[photo credit: Reuters]

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