Qualcomm: Our UMB Standard? Furgetaboutit.

Qualcomm has chosen to end Ultra Mobile Broadband, their variant in the 4G race, and will instead put their resources into Long Term Evolution.

Qualcomm, has thrown in the towel on the “4G” standards battle and stopped developing their variant called Ultra Mobile Broadband (Wikipedia).

The wireless chip maker will instead put its resources into Long Term Evolution, which some of its major customers, such as Verizon Wireless, have backed.

Chairman Irwin Jacobs told an annual analysts’ meeting on Thursday that there are no plans to undertake “a large layoff across the company” as he expects a modest market recovery in the second half of 2009.

While LTEWiMAX (and UMB) are often called “4G”, the ITU has not officially sanctioned “4G” yet. The ITU’s “4G” technology, to be developed around the year 2010, is planned to be capable of supporting up to 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1Gbps (fixed) and could be widely deployed around the year 2015.

UMB could have provided CDMA operators a continuity path that LTE and WiMAX couldn’t provide. But UMB would have required new networks and new handsets when most of the world was going with UMTS-based LTE (or WiMAX). Qualcomm was the odd man out.

Qualcomm wants to increase business from existing cell phone makers such as Sony Ericsson, as well as sell chips to market leader Nokia after ending their legal battles with a technology licensing agreement.

The company is also looking for growth beyond cell phones with its Snapdragon chips, aimed at consumer electronics such as pocket computers or low-power laptops. Qualcomm expects the first devices in the first half of 2009. The dual-CPU QSD8672 solution, with two highly integrated computing processors running at speeds of up to 1.5GHz, is designed to enable new classes of wirelessly connected computing and pocketable computing devices.

Qualcomm’s Kayak PC alternative hopes to leverage the widespread availability of 3G wireless to developing markets where wired Internet access has been difficult. It will combine the Opera browser, Qualcomm’s wireless chipsets and may also be powered by their Snapdragon CPU.

As for its Mediaflo business, Qualcomm plans to expand it beyond the United States, reports Reuters. Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer said Qualcomm could look to buy airwaves in markets such as India. Lauer was Chief Operating Officer of Sprint Nextel from August 2005 to December 2006.

The WiMax camp (backed by the IEEE) and the LTE camp (backed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project – 3GPP) are now prepping their candidates — 802.16m and LTE-Advanced, respectively, for an international “4G” standard that’s beyond WiMAX and LTE. The REAL “4G” standard will be called IMT-Advanced and deliver up to 100 Mbps (mobile) and 1Gbps (fixed).

Key features of ´IMT-Advanced´ include:

  • a high degree of commonality of functionality worldwide
  • compatibility of services within IMT and with fixed networks
  • capability of interworking with other radio access systems
  • high quality mobile services
  • user equipment suitable for worldwide use
  • user-friendly applications, services and equipment
  • worldwide roaming capability
  • enhanced peak data rates (100 Mbit/s for high and 1 Gbit/s for low mobility).

IMT-Advanced calls for very wide channel widths. The technology needs 40MHz and preferably up to 100MHz channel allocations, says Unstrung. Requirements of that kind are completely new territory for the cellular industry.

The ITU’s proposed IMT-Advanced standard is the brass ring — an opportunity for WiMax and LTE to merge into one integrated ITU “4G” standard. But opinions vary about the likelihood of the two camps blending their rival technologies.

Ron Resnick, the president and chairman of the WiMAX Forum, is unequivocal; “They are not going to harmonize,” he said flatly.

Written by: Luke Pensworth

Luke is the managing editor and site manager of Dailywireless. As a wireless enthusiast/consumer, he reviews a lot of services based on his own experience. Disgruntled as he may be, he tries to keep his articles as honest as possible.

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