Qualcomm working on chipsets that will make base stations go micro

Thomas K Thomas
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Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm, India & South Asia
Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm, India & South Asia

Traditionally, base stations are found outside and up on towers – but a lot of the usage is indoors. The new solution consists of small base stations inside buildings that also provide coverage outside.

US-based tech major Qualcomm is working on a chipset solution that will enable equipment vendors to manufacture base stations that will be the size of a smartphone.

The company is conducting trials currently and expecting commercial launches, including in India.

“Ever since smartphone evolution happened – data consumption is doubling every year. Even at 10-15 MHz of spectrum, the real capacity increase requires density of network to also increase substantially. Therefore instead of having towers covering large regions, we want small base stations in pretty much every house using 3G and 4G,” Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm, India & South Asia, told Business Line.

By shrinking the cell radius, Qualcomm is hoping to enable operators to get more capacity by reusing spectrum in many places.

While a similar model is being adopted to offer data services on Wi-Fi, the Qualcomm solution will allow operators to use licences spectrum on a smaller base station.

“This will help deliver data cost effectively especially for Indian market which is cost- sensitive,” said Avneesh.

R&D centre

Traditionally, base stations are found outside and up on towers -- but a lot of the usage is indoors. The new solution consists of small base stations inside buildings that also provide coverage outside. Qualcomm has prototypes of these base stations and is in talks with leading equipment makers for commercial deployments.

Qualcomm is also seeing an increased role for its R&D centre in Bangalore to service global customers.

“The way we are leveraging the Indian R&D centre is by looking at the affordability segment. We believe India and China are the two largest markets in the world that are going to drive affordability segment. While we have a stronger presence in China, having a business team in India allows us to get immediate market feedback,” Avneesh said.

“The other positive thing that we are seeing is that a lot of our customers are leveraging the great talent pool that we have in India by setting up their design centres in India for their global markets,” he said.

Qualcomm is betting on augmented reality and contextual data as the next big thing in the mobile space.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality is the interaction of superimposed graphics, audio and other sense enhancements over a real-world environment that’s displayed in real-time.

For example, a consumer can point his phone to a movie CD he wants to buy and a get a preview of the movie on his phone.

“Augmented reality is a compelling application, drives a significant amount of compute power inside the processor. You’re actually accessing on many aspect of the device such as - camera, high memory bandwidth, GPU, CPU and the video engines, then you detect the object and then you track it. I think the best applications are not out there at all,” said Raj Talluri, Vice-President of Product Management, Qualcomm.

(This article was published on November 15, 2012)
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