Your new favorite chipset JV

27 Aug 2008

It was the week that saw new wireless chip drama, 3G commitments and Wimax rollouts in Thailand, more Wimax in Malaysia, and visions of shape-shifting mobiles and wireless power by 2050.

Ericsson and STMicroelectronics agreed last week to combine their wireless chip and software businesses in a JV that will supply four of the world's top five cell phone makers. Under the terms, Ericsson will pay STMicro $700 million and inject $400 million into the venture, while STMicro will buy the remaining 20% of its ST-NXP venture it doesn't already own.

Analysts were impressed, noting that the new JV would give No. 1 wireless chipset player Qualcomm some stiff competition and make life very difficult for struggling No.2 Texas Instruments. Investors concurred - TI's share price dropped up to 2% on the news.

It was also the week that saw Thailand's National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) reassert its commitment to issuing 3G spectrum by Q2 2009 even if its successor, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) that will converge Thailand's telecoms and broadcasting regulatory agencies, is not ready to roll by then.

Hearings on establishing 3G regulations begin this week, with draft rules to be completed by the end of the year - including the number of licensees - and license auctions held by the second quarter of 2009.

Meanwhile, Thailand joined the Wimax club during the week with news that TT&T is deploying Wimax gear from Cisco Systems at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai province to provide wireless broadband for students and faculty. The deployment also marks Cisco's first Wimax win in Asia-Pacific since it bought Navini Networks last year.

In other Wimax news for the week, hot on the heels of last week's PacketOne launch of Wimax in Malaysia, rival Wimax licensee Redtone brought wireless broadband to East Malaysia with the launch of services in the Kota Kinabalu business district. The service, which runs on Motorola gear, is aimed at enterprise customers initially, though Redtone says it's also planning to work with service providers in Sabah and Sarawak to provide residential broadband services.

No word yet on whether Malaysia's remaining Wimax players - Asiaspace Dotcom and YTL e-Solutions' Bizsurf - will launch by the end of the month or risk fines by the MCMC, but PacketOne said Tuesday that it had signed up 6,000 trial users in its first week.

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