NEW YORK – Intel bought more than 1,400 patents and patent applications from Powerwave Technologies. The patents cover telecommunications infrastructure technologies including tower mounted amplifiers, antenna structures, power amplifier configurations, crest factor reduction, and digital pre-distortion circuitry, Intel said.
The company purchased the patent portfolio for an undisclosed amount from an affiliate of The Gores Group, which obtained the patents following Powerwave's bankruptcy.
Intel said the purchase is part it's ongoing process of managing its patent portfolio. The purchase follows the company's recent acquisition of LSI's Axxia unit, which makes and sells an ARM-based SoC for a range of networking systems including cellular base stations.
The PC giant has been working for some time on pilot projects for Cloud Radio Access Networks (C-RAN) with carriers in China and South Korea, including China Mobile the world's largest carrier in terms of subscribers. The patent acquisition clearly supports Intel's expanding plans in back-end cellular networks.
One analyst, however, isn't looking at the Powerwave patent purchase as indicative of a larger roadmap.
"I wouldn't for a moment doubt that Intel is working on something [related to base stations], but I think what Intel is working on and what they buy when things are on sale cheap are two different things," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of the market watcher Insight64. "Intel has interesting philosophy about patents. They constantly lay in fear that some aspect of their design will infringe somebody's patent."
Acquiring a large portfolio could support a variety of products, Brookwood continued. Technology in the Powerwave patents could be relevant when building a WiFi station and antennas, among other things. "A clever patent lawyer can go after lots of people who are using the technology in different ways than patent holder intended originally," he said.
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times