Qualcomm prepares for a cell-less future

Filling in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi integration

Qualcomm has spent well in excess of $40m readying itself for a world beyond CDMA.

The purchase of RF Micro Devices and Airgo Networks Inc gives Qualcomm experience and technology in cutting-edge Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communications, enabling it to compete in a world where phone handsets support a variety of radio technologies.

Qualcomm is paying $39m for the Bluetooth assets of RF Micro Devices, which is conveniently located in San Diego (the home of Qualcomm itself), giving it rapid access to EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) implementations and the latest Bluetooth profiles.

The cost of Airgo Networks isn't being revealed, but with its experience in 802.11n and MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) it is unlikely to have been cheap.

Phone handsets from Nokia now sport seven different radios, so there is an imperative for Qualcomm to be able to offer the most important of those in a single package to manufacturers, and these purchases will give them the ability to do just that relatively quickly.

While the ownership of key CDMA technologies has served Qualcomm well in the past, as GSM continues to dominate and applications become more network-agnostic they will need to innovate more aggressively if they are to maintain their position, and acquiring such cutting-edge technologies will work well in that regard. ®

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