2009 will see the introduction of a new class of wireless communications chip that features dual-mode support for both WiMAX and LTE, according to ABI Research. The thrust of demand for such chips comes from those wireless device makers seeking to reduce the number of their SKUs; they will welcome the economies of scale that come from creating devices that support both 4G standards.

“Some mobile operators are showing interest in dual-mode chipsets,” says ABI Research principal analyst Philip Solis, “and they are backing it with cash. Vodafone, for example, has a foot in both WiMAX and LTE camps. They will use LTE in industrialized regions and WiMAX in developing nations. In Japan, KDDI may deploy LTE on its own, but as an investor (along with Intel and others) in WiMAX operator UQ Communications, KDDI has an interest in both standards.”

These chips are destined for any and all mobile devices, although given that most of the early usage of both LTE and WiMAX will be for data transmission, USB modems, laptops, netbooks and MIDs are likely to be the first products to include the dual-mode chips. “Because WiMAX networks will be deployed sooner than LTE, for competitive reasons these dual-mode chips are generally being created by WiMAX chip vendors, particularly the smaller, more agile ones,” Solis adds.

ABI Research’s study “The WiMAX Chipset Market” examines chipset vendors’ activities and products. Forecasts include shipments and revenue by a variety of segmentations including device CPE, mobile devices by type, region, main frequency band and 802.16e/16m. It forms part of the firm’s Wireless Semiconductors Research Service, which also includes other Research Reports, ABI Insights, an ABI Vendor Matrix and analysis inquiry support.