Agere Shifting Wi-Fi Focus to VoIP

By Eric Griffith

October 12, 2004

The pioneer in 802.11 is going to leave behind its chipsets for standalone wireless products to concentrate solely on integrated Wi-Fi and voice.

Rumors of chipmaker Agere Systems' shift out of Wi-Fi are somewhat exaggerated—but not completely.

Reports at and elsewhere have implied the company is leaving the world of Wi-Fi behind. They quote Agere's EMEA communications manager, Luca Balbo, as saying the company won't invest any more in development of new 802.11 products, and that the company plans to "exit the WLAN market moving forward."

However, JoAnna Schooler of Agere public relations says that while the company does "not expect to continue developing future standalone Wi-Fi solutions," it won't leave the standard behind altogether.

"Agere is focusing its efforts in Wi-Fi on the areas where we see the greatest opportunity for growth, which are wireless VoIP and the integration of Wi-Fi and cellular," says Schooler. "By comparison, the unit volumes in the mobile phone market are nearly three times the volumes in the PC segment, where there are extreme price pressures and increasing commoditization."

Schooler says the company will announce some VoWi-Fi design wins in the next few weeks with "major customers."

The company will be closing its main Wi-Fi development center in the Netherlands, and future use of Wi-Fi by the company will be based on its "mobility roadmap," according to Schooler.

Last week, rumors were rampant that chip rival Broadcom would be buying out the Agere Wi-Fi chip business, but there's no further word on that. The two companies settled a patent lawsuit that will cost Broadcom $27.5 million.

Agere laid off 500 people last month, and expects to axe another 600 at a wafer plant in Florida—they'll close the plant if it isn't sold by the end of next year.

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