Intel exec admits LTE weakness is holding back U.S. sales

Intel showed off its next-generation Atom-based chipset for smartphones, but an Intel executive lamented the fact that the company's mobile chipsets are not yet getting traction because they lack support for LTE.

Speaking at the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, Tom Kilroy, Intel's executive vice president of sales, said a lack of LTE support is hurting Intel right now with U.S. carriers. "Absence of LTE is the reason," he said during a question and answer session following a keynote presentation, according to Engadget. "We can't get ranged by U.S. carriers without LTE, so once we have multimode LTE coming to market later this year, we have an opportunity to compete in that business." 

Intel's single-mode LTE chipset solution is shipping now and the company has said that it will begin multimode LTE shipments later this year. Most U.S. carriers are moving rapidly to LTE for smartphones and tablets--Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) has indicated it could launch an LTE-only smartphone in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Kilroy showed off the company's next-generation chipset for smartphones, dubbed "Merrifield." Intel said its 22-nanometer system-on-a-chip for smartphones will deliver increased performance and battery life, and "includes an integrated sensor hub for personalized services, as well as capabilities for data, device and privacy protection." The chip is not expected to be in commercial smartphones until early next year.

Speaking of smartphones, rival Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) said at Computex that it is expanding its line of Snapdragon 400 processors for mass-market smartphones by introducing quad-core CPUs with integrated multimode 3G/LTE modems. Qualcomm is aiming the 400 line at mid-range smartphones with dual-core and quad-core processors and said the new chip and its reference design will be available in late 2013. The push for mass-market handsets is part of a broader industry push to get ahead of falling average prices for smartphones, which many research firms predict will drop below $200 in the years ahead as more people in emerging markets upgrade from feature phones to higher-end devices.

Qualcomm's emphasis on adding LTE support to high-value smartphones is an indication that it wants to keep its lead in the cellular baseband market. According to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics, Qualcomm led the cellular baseband market with 59 percent revenue share in the first quarter of 2013, followed by Intel with 12 percent revenue share and MediaTek with 10 percent share.

Separately, Qualcomm unveiled its FSM99xx family of 28-nanometer chips that integrate 3G and LTE for use in small cells. The chipsets support concurrent 3G and LTE operation or dual-carrier LTE with carrier aggregation in pico, metro and enterprise small cells. They also support 802.11ac/n Wi-Fi capabilities.

For more:
- see this Intel release
- see this Engadget article
- see this GigaOM article 
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Qualcomm release
- see this separate IDG News Service article
- see this Strategy Analytics release

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