Mobile chip maker Qualcomm said Thursday that it has started providing new wireless chipsets that combine 3G and 4G wireless technology to help carriers transition to the next generation of wireless technology.
The company said Huawei Technologies, LG Electronics Novatel Wireless, Sierra Wireless, and ZTE are among the first mobile-device manufacturers to test the new chips.
Qualcomm said that devices that use the new chips could be available in commercial products starting in the second half of 2010.
The new chips will allow wireless phones and other portable devices to switch between a 4G wireless network using LTE, or long-term evolution, technology and HSPA Plus, a 3G wireless technology.
This is important because many carriers around the world plan to upgrade their networks to 4G using LTE. But these networks won't be ubiquitous overnight, and consumers will not be able to get 4G signals everywhere and will need to roam on 3G networks so they can have coverage almost everywhere. This means that devices will need chips that allow them to switch between networks.
HSPA Plus is the next iteration of 3G wireless technology that can provide download speeds of up to 21 megabits per second. Many wireless operators, including Telstra of Australia and AT&T in the U.S., are upgrading their networks now. These carriers eventually plan to upgrade their networks to LTE.
Qualcomm also announced it is providing a new set of mobile-device chips to manufacturers for testing that will add more robust multimedia features to new smartphones.
This new chipset family supports high-definition video recording and playback, enhanced graphics, and an overall chip design that is optimized for a highly responsive Web experience. Qualcomm expects phone makers to have devices that use the new MSM7x30 family of chipsets commercially available by the end of 2010.
The new chipsets will allow phones to operate on the most advanced 3G wireless networks, such as those running the latest generation of HSPA and EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized).
The chips will support handsets that use the Android, Brew, Symbian, and Windows Mobile operating systems. Some of the features that the new chips could enable include a 12-megapixel camera, 720p video recording, and 3D gaming.