Qualcomm (NSYE:QCOM), long-known as a CDMA behemoth, plans to eventually make chips that contain access for every wireless technology--from various 3G technologies to LTE and more--and will automatically switch users to the fastest network.
"As the number of devices that demand to be connected at all times goes up, the number of radios in them also goes up," said Steve Mollenkopf, Qualcomm's executive vice president and general manager of CDMA Technologies.
Speaking at GigaOm's Mobilize conference in San Francisco, Mollenkopf said devices will have to contend with more wireless frequency bands than ever before--including, eventually, white space spectrum, which the FCC just authorized for unlicensed use. In that world, the Qualcomm exec explained, chips are going to have to automatically switch among networks, something that can be done via Software Defined Radio technology. All of this, he said, is good for business.
"What you're going to be using, what radio technology you'll go through, will vary in very short distances--sometimes less than a meter," he said.
Still, he argued, for such a scenario to work, devices will need powerful processors--and faster processors certainly are coming. ARM Holdings, which licenses its designs to Qualcomm and other companies, unveiled a new mobile processor core architecture last month, the "Eagle" Cortex-A15, that the company said can deliver five times the performance of today's high-end smartphone processors with comparable power consumption.
Qualcomm also plans to expand beyond traditional mobile devices. Mollenkopf said Qualcomm is interested in taking advantage of the burgeoning machine-to-machine market in healthcare, and also is considering tracking technologies. "People will spend a fair amount of money on things to save them time or on their health," he said.
FCC approves unlicensed white space use
AT&T, Qualcomm trying to unlock mHealth's potential
Dual-core chips migrating to smartphone market
ARM ups ante with new mobile processor core
Correction, Oct. 1, 2010: This article had incorrectly spelled Steve Mollenkopf's last name.