Monday, 20 October 2008 10:31

Ericsson works with Intel to bring HSPA to Mobile Internet Devices

Although today’s handheld computer phones such as iPhones, Nokia smartphones, Windows Mobile smartphones and others are already “mobile Internet devices”, Intel is hard at work on the “next generation” of MIDs and has done a deal with Ericsson to ensure an HSPA/WCMA/EDGE/GSM module is part of the mix.

Remember when Intel was working with Nokia to bring a 3.5G module to Centrino notebook computers, a deal that was announced with great fanfare and then undone?

This was presumably due to Intel’s desire to promote the WiMAX standard over 3.5G at the time, even though consumers were quite excited by the prospect.

Still, that's all old news now as Ericsson and Intel announced the birth of a new 3.5G deal, this time aimed at Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) instead of notebooks, where 3.5G modules are already in wide use despite Intel's attempt to lower their significance at the time. 

Given that WiMAX still hasn’t taken over the world, despite an ongoing US rollout and trials worldwide, while 3.5G networks grow larger and stronger by the day, doing a deal to ensure 3.5G HSPA (high speed packet access) technology is available in Intel’s MIDs (mobile Internet devices) was inevitable.

Ericsson says it is “extending its 3G mobile broadband technology from notebooks to a range of pocketable devices with various purposes”, explaining that “pocketable MIDs can deliver a truly mobile internet experience, and are expected to facilitate a range of uses including entertainment and media, connected GPS navigation, online gaming, social networking, data communication, and productivity.”

They also add that “with ubiquitous broadband connectivity, mobile users will be able to enjoy these experiences any time, anywhere.”

Of course, this described today’s iPhones, Nokia N95’s and N96’s, and any number of other smartphone devices, most of which having little, if anything, to do with Intel, at least in the public eye.

So, given that Intel makes processors and chipsets which live in most of the world’s computers, it’s no surprise that Intel also wants to be part of this business too.

Intel tried previously with ARM mobile processors used in Pocket PC devices, but sold that business to Maxwell Technologies a few years ago.

So, Intel is trying again, this time using Intel Atom based chip technology as part of a platform called “Moorestown”, due for public release in 2009/2010, by which time Intel will have to contend with either the iPhone 3.0 or even the 2010 iPhone 4.0.

Intel says that Moorestown is its “next-generation MID platform” which will include HSPA as one of its wireless technologies, and while the Ericsson press release doesn’t mention it, surely Intel will ensure Wi-Fi and WiMAX is part of the mix. Bluetooth too.

What is Ericsson saying locally and internationally about the agreement to get its HSPA technologies mid-way into Intel’s MIDs? Please read on to page 2.

Kursten Leins, Ericsson's Strategic Marketing Manager for Multimedia said: “In Australia, businesses and consumers can already purchase laptops with HSPA built-in, and this cooperation with Intel will broaden the range of devices to have mobile broadband connectivity.

"There are already more than 200 commercially deployed HSPA networks in more than 80 countries serving more than one billion subscribers, so the demands and economies of scale are there for mobile broadband to be embedded into devices such as navigation systems, gaming consoles, media players, internet tablets and other enterprise devices," continued Leins.

Johan Wibergh, Senior Vice President and head of Business Unit Networks at Ericsson, said: “Ericsson continues to create one Internet and one experience for the consumer, regardless of location or device, fixed or wireless. We see great potential in embedding mobile broadband in MIDs, creating new markets in the industry.

“We are very excited to work with Intel to bring together the telecom and computing industries and extend the mobile broadband ecosystem.”

Anand Chandrasekher, Intel Senior Vice President and General Manager for the company’s Ultra Mobility Group said: “The Internet, with all of its richness, versatility and personalization, will forever change how we think about mobile computing

“The high performance, low power and compatibility of Intel architecture, coupled with Ericsson’s 3G mobile technologies, represents one of the ways to accelerate the global adoption of a new breed of Mobile Internet Devices that provide people with more powerful, always connected Internet-based experiences.”

The 3G technology is built on Ericsson’s latest generation of HSPA chipsets in small, thin modules, enabling MID manufacturers to produce very attractive end-user devices. Ericsson is optimising its module for Intel’s next-generation Moorestown platform and Moblin-based Linux operating systems. The module will work on both WCDMA/HSPA and GSM/EDGE networks worldwide.

HSPA is the world's most widely deployed 3G mobile broadband technology, with 221 commercially deployed networks available around the world serving more than 60 million subscribers – a figure that Ericsson says is “increasing by 4 million per month”.

As a side note about HSPA technology, Ericsson says that by 2010, 71% of mobile broadband connections are projected to be HSPA-based, which today is already on average 20 times faster than GSM/GPRS connections.

Ericsson notes that “future evolution steps will increase the HSPA download speed to 42Mbps”, something we’ve already heard Australian telco Telstra promise to install by te end of 2009. Ericsson also says the upload speed of HSPA will increase to 12Mbps.

HSPA networks are available on “many frequency bands ranging from 850MHz to 2.6GHz.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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