I occasionally check in at the Wi-Fi Alliance website to see how the dual mode phone certifications are doing. The last time was in February. Today I got an interesting surprise. Massive activity this quarter – over 50 phones. I am very curious to see the results for the fourth quarter – could we have crossed the trough of disillusionment in dual-mode phones?
There are still no 802.11n dual-mode phones – not really surprising considering that only one company claims to be shipping 802.11n mobile phone chips: Redpine Signals; they tell me that their chip is shipping in Wi-Fi only phones, not yet dual-mode. TI’s announced 11n chip will probably ship in phones early next year.
Back in July Broadcom announced that it had started production shipments of its BCM4325 chip.
Yesterday iFixit.com found one in the new Apple iPod Touch. This is the first published instance of a device containing this chip but many more will follow. Broadcom has scored a coup with this device; it contains Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM, all on a single die fabricated on a 65nm process.
This is the most highly integrated connectivity chip (the term refers to all the non-cellular radios in a phone) yet to reach the market. Previous combo connectivity chips have combined Bluetooth with FM, and in one instance (from Marvell) Bluetooth with Wi-Fi. But the BCM4325 is the first to market with three radios. TI has announced, but not yet shipped, a similar chip with even more impressive specifications: the TI Wi-Fi will include 802.11n and the TI FM will include transmit as well as receive.
Connectivity technology in cell phones is evolving very rapidly, as the phone manufacturers accelerate their competition on the feature treadmill. Next will be GPS, driven this time by the network operators, who see location-based services as a potential goldmine. Two chip manufacturers have announced, but not yet shipped, combo Bluetooth, FM and GPS chips.
Connectivity chips were the subject of a report I wrote last year with the Linley Group; we will deliver an update with expanded coverage later this year.
A recent survey of over 200 IT professionals worldwide performed by BT’s Consulting Group says:
While many new technologies take years to be adopted, 802.11n appears to be exceeding the typical adoption curve. In fact, nearly one-third (31 percent) of respondents plan to migrate to 802.11n within the next 12 months, and another 20 percent plan to do so sometime beyond this timeframe.
The report says this speedy uptake indicates that the benefits of 11n are urgently needed. Unfortunately the survey didn’t appear to question respondents about their plans for 5 GHz operation.
The report delivered some other surprisingly optimistic numbers concerning FMC: 9% of respondents claim to have already implemented Fixed-Mobile-Convergence, and 32% plan to within the next 12 months. The report doesn’t specify how “Fixed Mobile Convergence” was defined in the survey. Since the survey was about WLANs, presumably it didn’t simply mean PBX extension to mobile, but I doubt that 9% of worldwide enterprises have implemented call continuity between WLAN and cellular.
The report has a lot of other interesting information – well worth a read.