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Chip tech for mobile Net

New Delhi, Aug. 22: US chip maker Beceem is in talks with top mobile broadband service providers, including Reliance-Infotel, Aircel and Tikona.

Beceem has developed a chip that allows service providers to seamlessly switch between WiMax and LTE — two fourth generation technologies for wireless high-speed Internet access.

“For a price sensitive country such as India, operators are looking for a technology which allows them to provide low-cost wireless Internet services for mass adoption and eventually upgrade to a newer technology like LTE,” said Lars Jonsson, vice-president of Beceem Communications.

WiMax-enabled devices such as modems and smartphones are cheaper than LTE, which is relatively new. “WiMax-enabled devices are available for $40 compared with $100 for LTE devices,” said Jonsson.

The California-based chip maker has its core manufacturing operations in Bangalore. So, it is unlikely to face security concerns raised by intelligence agencies over spyware embedded in imported telecom equipment, said industry executives.

Several equipment orders from global vendors have been cancelled because of security issues, leading to delays in the network rollout. Broadband service providers, who paid over Rs 38,000 crore to buy Internet spectrum through auction, are finalising their technology and device partners as they want to take off from next year.

According to Jonsson, operators have shown interest in initially using WiMax and then moving to LTE in 2-3 years. Beceem will start trials for the new chip in the first quarter of 2011.

“The dual WiMax-LTE capability of Beceem has the potential to be a game changer,” said Caroline Gabriel, research director at Rethink Technology Research Associates.

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