Microwave Journal

Commercial Market

June 1, 2001

New All-silicon Chips for Wireless Base Stations

Newsedge reports that Lucent Technologies has announced the development of an all-silicon chipset for wireless base stations. The announcement was made at the recent Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco. These new chips will be used in base stations that receive signals from mobile devices, such as cell phones and handheld computers. The receivers in use now typically have 10 to 20 GaAs chips compared to only three of the new silicon chips. Lucent claims the new system is 100 times smaller at a cost savings of 10 to 100 times and will have the effect of improving quality and lessening the cost of wireless networks. The breakthrough is expected to be deployed over the next four or five years.

Semiconductor Foundries Bounce Back to Lead the Industry

Despite having played a limited role during the last semiconductor boom of 1993 to 1995, the foundry business has become a primary industry driver as IDMs and OEMs become increasingly dependent on outsourcing manufacturing. The Cahners In-Stat Group finds that while the industry grew by 36.8 percent in 2000, leading foundries grew even faster with the largest achieving growth rates in the 60 to 125 percent range.

Satisfying the approximately 500 to 600 fabless chip start-ups that have emerged in the past decade will require foundries to produce more of the world's chips over the coming decade. "While the semiconductor industry braces for much slower growth in 2001, the foundry segment is expected to outperform the industry as a whole with foundry revenues expected to rise from $7.6 B in 1999 to $35.4 B in 2004," said Steve Cullen, director of In-Stat's semiconductor service. They also find that both Integrated Device Manufactures such as Motorola and system OEMs are shifting more of their manufacturing to third party foundries. Some IDMs are even converting older fab plants into foundries. "With several fables chip makers leaping into manufacturing, the industry's well defined functional segmentation lines are becoming blurred," said Curren. "Foundries will have a mojor impact on the new hybrid semiconductor development strategy." In-Stat also projects that the foundry business will become more geographically diversified over the next few years, extending its reach into other parts of Asia as well as the United States and Europe.

A report "Foundries: Outsourcing the Semiconductor Future" can be purchased from In-Stat at: www.instat.com/catalog/cat-si.htm#0101sf

Latin America's Cellular/PCS Subscribers to Pass 150 Million by 2006

The Yankee Group reports via Newsedge that Latin America's wireless mobile markets continued their remarkable growth trend over the course of the last year, reaching a regional average growth rate of 58.6 percent during 2000. Wireless penetration increased from a regional average of 10 percent at the end of 1999 to 15.6 percent by the end of 2000.

"Following such impressive growth rates in the past years, the Yankee Group expects that growth will begin to slow down in this sector. Our total cellular/PCS subscriber forecast will reach an aggregate 2000-2006 compound annual growth rate of 17.9 percent for the entire region, and total wireless subscribers will more than double from 60 million at year-end 2000 to 162 million at the end of 2006," said Cristiane Mahler of the Yankee Group's Wireless/Mobile Latin America Practice. "In such a capital-intensive industry, scalability and critical mass are paramount for wireless operators to maintain profitability in increasingly competitive environments. As such, there is a major push by regional players to consolidate their regional positions with nation- and region-wide expansions, as well as to streamline operations. This is illustrated through Telephonica's persistent attempts to gain a nationwide footprint in Mexico's wireless market and Telecon Italia Mobile's pursuit to consolidate nationwide coverage in Brazil and Venezuela." Operators across the region are currently making important decisions with respect to 2.5 and 3G network deployments. In the fourth quarter of 2000, following NTT DoCoMo's investment in AT&T Wireless, the American company announced a contract to deploy a GSM/GPRS network alongside its TDMA infrastructure that will enable the rollout of advanced mobile data services to its customers. Following this lead, several TDMA operators have announced contracts to do the same. CDMA vendors expect that 1xRTT infrastructure will be available by mid-2001, with commercial deployment soon after. For more information, e-mail: hroach@yankeegroup.com

Ericsson Signs GSM, Multiservice, IP Backbone Contracts in China

Ericsson has been awarded a series of contracts in China for GSM and multiservice network projects including IP backbone construction in Beijing and the provinces of Shandong, Hebei and Yunnan. With a combined value of more than USD 400 Million, the contracts further strengthen Ericsson's market leadership in China.

Beijing Ericsson Mobile Communications Company Limited and Nanjing Ericsson Panda Communications Company Limited, Ericsson's two major joint venture companies in China, will deliver all related systems and equipment. All contracts are being carried out with Chinese partners.

Ericsson will supply Shandong Telecom with IP backbone routers for their inter-city broadband IP Networks. This is a follow-up to a similar contract last year. Under an agreement with China Telecom, Ericsson will also supply routers for all nodes of China Telecom's second data communications expansion project. In a third agreement, Ericsson will also supply similar equipment to Jiangsu Mobile in addition to switches and ADSL equipment for Liaoning Telecom.

In a GSM expansion contract with Shandong Mobile, Ericsson will supply radio and switching infrastructure elements, prepaid systems, network planning and operational support services as well as customer and project support services. Ericsson is the sole supplier in the fast growing GSM market in Shandong Province, which has a population of over 90 million. A similar expansion contract will supply switching and radio equipment, adding GPRS and Mobile N services for Hebei Mobile. A fifth GSM expansion project for Yunnan Unicom is scheduled for completion in June of this year and a similar expansion project for Hubei Mobile is scheduled for completion in September. Additional contracts with Chongging Mobile, Jiangsu Mobile and Xinjiang Mobile are also in place. Additional information is available on the Web at: www.ericsson.com/press

ETSI Completes First Specifications for Satellite-based PCS Systems

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has published the first release of a complete set of specifications for a mobile satellite radio interface, known as "GEO-Mobile Radio Interface specifications (GMR)." There are two variants of the GMR standards in this first release: GMR-1, led by HNS Hughes and adopted by the Thuraya system, and GMR-2, led by Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications, developed for the ASIA Cellular Satellite System (AceS). The Thuraya system provides services in 99 countries spanning Europe, North and Central Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. The AseS system provides services over an area covering India, China, Indonesia, as well as most of South East Asia. More detail is available on the ETSI Web site at: www.etsi.org.