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Clearwire starts Anadigics' WiMAX ramp

Efficient GaAs PAs will play a key part in proving the feasibility of the wireless communication standard in the trailblazing US network.

Anadigics has begun gearing up for the pivotal US deployment of WiMAX, which promises to bring powerful mobile data technology to millions of users for the first time.

The recently formed WiMAX venture called Clearwire is targeting up to 140 million subscribers until the end of 2010 (see related story). Anadigics aims to be in high volume production at its Warren, New Jersey, GaAs fab to serve this market in 2009.

“The manufacture of WiMAX products should begin in earnest later this year,” Glenn Eswein, Anadigics director of broadband business product marketing, told compoundsemiconductor.net. “The product ramp will start with lower volume infrastructure equipment, like base stations and move quickly to higher volume subscriber products, such as PC cards and USB dongles.”

Eswein says that Anadigics power amplifiers (PAs) are well suited for these latter applications, helping to maximize battery life by performing WiMAX's power-hungry modulation schemes efficiently. WiMAX PAs must operate at higher linearity and higher average transmit power levels than handset or WLAN devices, making efficiency essential.

Anadigics has experience that counts in this area as a partner to Beceem, which designs chipsets for the likes of key WiMAX equipment maker Samsung (see related story). Samsung manufactures devices for Xohm, the current WiMAX offering from US telephony company Sprint, which owns 51 percent of the Clearwire WiMAX venture.

“Given that Anadigics power amplifiers are already designed into available 2.5 GHz WiMAX radio reference designs and equipment solutions, we anticipate strong growth,” Eswein pointed out.

Other than Sprint, Clearwire boasts several high-profile backers, including Google and Intel, one of Anadigics biggest customers.

“Intel will champion the integration of WiMAX radios into notebook PCs, and Anadigics stands to benefit from Intel s influence in this area,” Eswein said. “Since Anadigics has a close relationship with Intel as an RF solutions provider, we remain bullish regarding our long-term prospects in WiMAX.”

However, despite the promise that Clearwire holds for Anadigics, Eswein still has a clear understanding of the greater importance that the venture represents.

”The Sprint-Clearwire announcement in itself is only the ignition spark,” he said. “The world is watching how WiMAX rolls out in the US - a successful commercial launch and strong subscriber growth may incite service providers in other countries to use WiMAX technologies as well."

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