Sequans this week announced that it’s powering devices for a large-scale trial of TD-LTE technology in China. According to the company, Nationz and Primemobi, two of Sequans’ device manufacturer partners, were “awarded portions of the contract as recently announced by China Mobile.”
For now, Sequans’ technology is in devices such as USB dongles, mobile routers and CPE, not in handsets.
Sequans, which owns chip solutions supporting both TDD and FDD, has worked since earlier this year with Nationz, which has RF and TD-SCDMA solutions. Meanwhile, Primemobi, Sequans’ other partner, is China’s cloud-computing service provider and an advanced integrator that has developed systems including 3G router, 3G gateway and other wireless gateways.
Finding the right Chinese partners is half the battle. Working with them well is the rest of the battle. Sequans’ move makes me wonder why other Western chip companies haven’t made a similar move.
Before winning the contracts with China Mobile, Sequans participated “in a lengthy qualification process whereby numerous leading local and international chip and device makers endured a deep technical evaluation conducted by China Mobile and China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology,” according to the French company. Sequans has been engaged with China Mobile since 2010 and has also participated in a large-scale commercial trial that began in 2011.
In the next phase of the trial, beginning in Q4 and continuing through mid-2013, China Mobile will deploy 20,000 TD-LTE base stations and extend its network to 13 cities in China.
Currently, Sequans offers two LTE platforms: Mont Blanc, optimized for the design of host-less USB modems, CPE, and mobile routers or hotspots; and Andromeda, optimized for handsets and tablets. Sequans’ LTE chips are “compact and powerful, delivering category 4 throughput of up to 150 Mbps in a very small 10×10 mm package that includes SDRAM,” according to the company.
Of course, we should note that it’s far from clear how Sequans might actually get its chips inside China Mobile’s LTE handsets.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.