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Mobile WiMAX Deployments Animate Anadigics

LTE prototypes and initial 4G deployments in Japan and the US raise the PA maker's hopes for accelerating demand.

by Andy Extance in Barcelona
Anadigics is backing the latest WiMAX networks to revolutionize the way that people use wireless data, and demand more of the company s GaAs chips in the process.

At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) from 16 to 19 February in Barcelona, the company announced its latest power amplifers for the Intel-backed WiMAX 4G wireless standard. This comes as its existing products are poised to ramp further in 2009 as consumers get their first chance to use WiMAX in a truly mobile form.

Japanese operator UQ Communications rolled out trial networks in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kawasaki at the beginning of February, using the 2.5 GHz band that Anadigics latest PA addresses.

“There s a lot of momentum right now for WiMAX mobile in the 2.5 GHz band," Glenn Eswein, marketing director for Anadigics' broadband business told compoundsemiconductor.net. “UQ Communications is going to be offering services for free for about three months to encourage people to sign up."

WiMAX pioneer Clearwire is also running trials at 2.5 GHz in the US, while the “Gobi" embedded WiMAX modem has begun rolling out in commercially available notebook computers. Anadigics is a common presence as the PA vendor in Gobi chipset supplier Qualcomm s reference designs.

“The thing that excites me is that it offers an enterprise model," added Bruce Webber, Anadigics' wireless products marketing director. “When you have IBM and State Farm [Insurance] saying I need wireless data because it helps me do my job , that s very good for accelerating demand. And we re really excited about that."

Chips hoping to cash in
At MWC, the RF chipmaker launched a WiMAX-specific GaAs PA that combines industry-leading levels of efficiency with frequency coverage extended across 2.3 GHz to 2.7 GHz.

Lowering the frequency range to 2.3 GHz adds Korea s WiBRO, a WiMAX forerunner, to the frequencies up to 2.7 GHz used by the Japanese and US efforts. Extending the amplifier's bandwidth can make it difficult to maintain efficiency, but exploiting Anadigics “InGaP-plus" BiFETs in a class AB amplifier design keeps that efficiency above 20 percent.

With previous products for WiMAX femtocells rolling out of Anadigics Warren, NJ, fab in sample form for around a year now, the company introduced another broadband PA for 4G femtocells at MWC.

Covering the whole range from 2.1 GHz to 2.7 GHz, the AWB7226 PA addresses both WiMAX and the Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G standard that is developing from existing 3G protocols. Because of that evolution, the PA can also be used for the current 3G wideband CDMA/EDGE standards used in North America.

The AWB7226 uses a balanced design that optimizes the PA for efficiency, avoiding large spikes in power consumption caused by impedance mismatch in other femtocell PAs.

The third offering from Anadigics in Barcelona potentially takes advantage of the 3G wideband CDMA/EDGE to 4G LTE transition in the other direction.

Its latest efficient and compact EDGE PA is currently targeted at EDGE-only phones and smartphones. However Anadigics has found that its wideband CDMA/EDGE products also work well in prototypes for LTE "“ including those being demonstrated at MWC by a major handset manufacturer.

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