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June - 2008 - issue > In Conversation
Nurturing a New Spectrum
Vimali Swamy
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Even though India is yet to issue licenses for cellular services based on third-generation (3G) technology, sales of 3G-enabled handsets are already on the rise. Major chip manufacturers like Qualcomm are wasting no time bringing out 3G-enabled single-chips. In an exclusive interview with The Smart Techie, Mohit Bhushan, Sr. Director - Product Management, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies talks about the growing market of 3G technology.

What is the state of 3G? What are some of the trends you see right now?

3G is already deployed and there are a number of 3G mobile broadband devices available in the market today. More than 470 devices have been commercialized by April 2008. These devices include handsets, notebooks, USB modems, PC cards, and wireless routers.

The projection before the market today is around 230 million units, and it is expected to grow by 100 million units a year. By 2013 it is expected to reach 800 million. So the trend we see in the markets that have already deployed 3G, like the U.S., Europe, Japan, and some parts of Asia is that the GSM operators are upgrading their networks to 3G for primary data access.

With respect to India what is the market for 3G? What are some of the signals that you are gathering from the market?

We expect a lot of growth to come in primary data access. The facility of using CDMA phones as a USB modem is expected to take off well. Even though 3G is yet to enter emerging markets like India and China, people have already started using handsets that support 3G. 4G is the next step in this evolving technology. It will take the data experience and grow many folds to give a richer multimedia experience, i.e. downloading multimedia applications, music, videos, and GPS.

Playing in an emerging market where there are a lot of uncertainties is always a challenge. How has Qualcomm geared up for those uncertainties?

The greatest challenge has been in enabling the devices with 3G, because emerging markets are very cost conscious. Single chipsets have lowered the costs of 3G-enabled (WCDMA) handsets from $ 367 in 2004 to $ 78 in Q4 2007. To compete with lowering costs, Qualcomm is coming up with a single-chip solution for mass-market 3G smartphones.

Explain Qualcomm’s take on the ultra mobile devices space?

These devices are a part of our global initiative called the Global Mobile Internet that is an embedded solution for laptops. The embedded solutions have GPS, stand alone CDMA modem, and EVDO and GPS/GSMA compatibility with 3G standards. So many device manufacturers are now using these small modules that will lower the cost of handsets and reduce power consumption, thereby increasing the battery life of the gadget and can recognize the best available network for data connectivity. It will help vendors reduce the size of the mobile phones, making them sleeker than before.

What is the buzz about Snapdragon?

Snapdragon is a Qualcomm invented next generation CPU that will be used in our mobile solutions. Snapdragon is designed to add expanded functionality to future generations of consumer electronics - from gaming and portable entertainment devices to pocket computers and beyond - by delivering ubiquitous mobile broadband access, together with unsurpassed processing performance and battery life. Though Intel too has rolled out the Atom processor for the mobile solutions, we see a large market share for every one. We already have 30 plus customers worldwide in this space and have over 250 devices in the design and production stages.

What are your future plans for the Indian market?

Currently our basic focus is on developing the 3G market in India and increasing our chipset sales for the same. We will bring out the first single-chip based handset for mobile broadband based on the HSPA protocol by the end of 2008. We will continue to be fully occupied with this in the near future.
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