Electronic Design

Surging Markets Drive New Wireless Technologies

The exponential growth of wireless devices and services shows no signs of abating. In particular, demand for data-intensive services will continue their dramatic rise as carriers invest in enabling networks to handle more data. As a result, it's driving the evolution to EV-DO Rev. A, EV-DO Rev. B, and UMB (Ultra Mobile Broadband) for cdma2000 carriers and to HSDPA, HSUPA, and HSPA+ for UMTS carriers.

The demand is also catapulting new technologies into the mix, such as multimode WWAN and WLAN handsets and cellular broadband coverage. The latter can, for example, create a "home hotspot" for all electronic components in the home— TV, speakers, computers, DVD players, music storage, car stereos, and so on.

If such a hotspot were connected via an IEEE 802.11n WLAN solution, as powered by Qualcomm's AGN400 chip set, data could be sent and received at 315 Mbits/s—more than three times faster than 100-Mbit/s wired Ethernet solutions.

This setup could truly set us free of wires, not only for everyday entertainment, but also for business needs. Using this technology and a pocket-sized computing device, the business person could "pocket and dock-it" in hubs at home and the office—and even stay in touch at Wi-Fi and other access points.

These rapid technological changes may be having a more profound effect than first anticipated. They're changing everyday human behavior by creating a new mobile lifestyle. Powerful, efficient, anytime-anywhere communications for voice and data are redefining how we communicate as consumers and business people.

Central to this lifestyle change is a more sharply defined difference between portability and mobility. Laptops may be portable, but users increasingly prefer true mobility, untethered by wires, power cords, or rigid battery constraints. They wish to stay connected while walking, driving, taking the train, or just day-to-day living.

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Qualcomm's Snapdragon represents one example of a platform that's helping to drive the mobile lifestyle. It enlarges the scope of mobile broadband by offering the power of a laptop in a pocket-sized device. Snapdragon chip sets expand functionality, from gaming handhelds and portable entertainment devices to pocket computers, by delivering ubiquitous mobile broadband access.

All mobile broadband technologies (cdma2000 1xEV-DO, HSDPA/HSUPA), as well as mobile TV, Bluetooth, GPS, and WLAN, are covered. The fully scalable 1-GHz Snapdragon Scorpion microprocessor surpasses 2100 DMIPS and offers 128-bit SIMD (single-instruction multiple data).

For highly advanced multimedia capabilities, Snapdragon offers high-resolution support from VGA to XGA for cutting-edge video and graphics display. There's also considerable power savings and it can extend battery life.

The market for one of these multimedia capabilities—mobile TV—is poised to grow significantly. At the recent CTIA show, Qualcomm conducted the first live over-the-air UMB demonstration, showing simultaneous high-definition video streaming, video conferencing, VoIP, and Web browsing applications.

The convergence of the wireless, computing, consumer electronics, and entertainment industries is changing the wireless landscape in both mature and developing markets. Wireless technology, in fact, is turning on its head the common notion that developing markets only acquire technologies when they're older and cheaper.

Some developing countries even bypass wired connections and go directly to wireless, achieving huge savings in the process. Today, developing markets no longer wait for mature markets to get the latest wireless technology first. They now get it at the same time.

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