By Eric Griffith
January 9, 2006
Fabless chip company Wavesat has not been pushing hard for the Mobile WiMax future (the difference between 802.16-2004 WiMax and 802.16e Mobile WiMax being that users can move around and stay connected with the latter). That will change now that the company has a deal to provide the silicon for clients that will connect to SK Telecom’s WiBro deployment in South Korea. WiBro is the Korean version of the recently approved 802.16e specification, which is coming to market much faster than any other version of the technology.
“We’ll work to make a WiBro chipset,” says Vijay Dube, Vice President of Business Development for the Quebec-based Wavesat. “It’ll be a multi-million dollar agreement. We think it’s a key part of our strategy, to partner with a key player that will propel us into full mobility.”
“There’s a substantial market in fixed to simple mobility,” says Dube, “and we have substantial design wins in that area.” He says the company has 50 customers using the Wavesat chipset. “But this is a strong position for us in the full-mobility mobile handset area.”
The deal calls for creation of a System-on-a-Chip (SoC) supporting WiBro/OFDMA (orthogonal frequency division multiple access), along with development kits, for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs). The product family from Wavesat will be called UMobile, as in “Ultra-Mobile.”
Wavesat won’t make chips for WiBro base stations, but will cooperate with other vendors to make sure they are compatible.
While Dube won’t strictly characterize the agreement with SK Telecom as exclusive, he says, “Our understanding is that SK is working with us and no one else.”
Wavesat was one of many companies to be part of the WiMax Forum plugfest held in China in November 2005, where it claimed to have achieved easy interoperability with chips and products from companies such as Airspan Networks, Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Picochip, Aperto Networks, Redline Communications and Sequans Communications. Wavesat has previously stated that it expected WiMax product manufacture to increase sharply when it released a miniPCI module design for 802.16-2004 products running in the 3.5GHz radio frequency band.