Many of the innovations being shown at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) happening in Las Vegas right now understandably focus on, well, consumer products. But plenty of companies are also showing off the technology that powers those products, and MediaTek Inc. is no exception.
The chip designer and device maker announced in conjunction with CES that it would collaborate with a fellow Taiwanese company, Via Telecom, on system-on-chip (SoC) designs for bringing WorldMode compatibility to "mainstream mobile devices."
If you are not familiar with WorldMode, basically it is the idea that a single chip can support calls on any cellular network, from the ancient 1X to modern 4G LTE and everything in between. This would allow a global traveler to use a single phone to connect to whatever flavor of cellular service is available in whatever country the traveler is visiting.
The new SoCs will support WorldMode's "global roaming of voice and data services across CDMA2000, LTE (TDD and FDD), DC-HSPA+, UMTS, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE networks," MediaTek said in a press release.
Specifically, MediaTek is adding support for Via Telecom's CDMA2000 network into its WorldMode SoCs. What this means in practical terms is interoperability in the US and China between CDMA2000 networks and LTE networks.
The new SoCs will also be future-ready, MediaTek said in the release. "The SoCs will also be software upgradeable to support VoLTE (Voice over LTE) once mobile network operators begin to roll out the technology."
MediaTek isn’t the only company with a WorldMode SoC on the market. Marvell announced a new version of its Armada WorldMode SoC back in May. It offers support for both the TDD and FDD versions of LTE -- as does the new SoC designs from MediaTek. However, MediaTek and Via Telecom are aiming to be the first to have an SoC that not only will incorporate Via's CDMA2000 capability, but also will seamlessly hand over calls from the 3G CDMA2000 to 4G LTE.
The CDMA Development Group, the industry organization overseeing the CDMA network standard, said that as of December, there were 320 phones on the market that it defines as WorldMode, though very few offer support for every type of cellular network that can be found around the globe.
MediaTek and Via Telecom have a very deep technology connection already. MediaTek already uses Via's baseband processors -- the very core part of a mobile network chip that handles all of the radio functions -- as part of its mobile reference design. So the two.
Ker Zhang, CEO of Via Telecom, said in the release that samples of the first WorldMode SoCs from MediaTek with the support for Via Telecom's CDMA2000 will be available "before the end of 2014." Devices using the new SoCs should be available in early 2015, the companies said.
— Rodney Brown, , Editor in Chief, The Mobility Hub