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Startups Aim At WiMAX Heavyweights

Manhasset, N.Y. — As two startups fighting to be heard above the big WiMax guns of Intel and Fujitsu, Sequans Communications and Wavesat Inc. this week will separately announce a chip set and a mini-PCI card reference kit designed to accelerate WiMax development and deployment. The announcements come a week after the two vendors commenced WiMax certification testing.

"The market is at a stage now where it can go to high volume," said Vijay Dube, vice president of business development at Wavesat (Dorval, Quebec). "This is the first mini-PCI card design and it will accelerate the design and deployment of WiMax CPE [customer premises equipment]." Dube expects Asian ODMs to quickly ramp up the volume of WiMax CPE and drive costs down.

The reference kit marries Wavesat's DM256 baseband chip with an RF Magic front end for 3.5-GHz operation. The company will support the media-access control (MAC) layer in software. Wavesat is also working with SiGe Semiconductor for an RF front end. The kit will support both time-division duplex and half-frequency-division duplex operation.

While Wavesat's physical-layer baseband was announced in January, Sequans Communications (Cupertino, Calif.) made its silicon debut earlier this month with the SQN2010 and SQN1010 baseband-plus-MAC chips for basestations and CPE, respectively. "We got silicon back in September and it works," said Bernard Aboussouan, vice president of marketing and business development at Sequans.

Manufactured in a 0.13-micron Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. CMOS process, the chips are an ARM926 processor and the baseband processing. The SQN2010 basestation chip adds another ARM926 for customer applications. RF front-end partners include Sierra Monolithics and RF Magic.

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