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UMTS prospects looking up
Posted: 11-Sep-2004 [Source: Portelligent]

[New study reports UMTS handsets introduced over the past 18 months have reduced the average number of electronic components by over 25 percent.]

Austin, TX -- Portelligent, Inc. has released a study of third-generation (3G) UMTS handsets which indicates that handset designers have substantially reduced the average complexity and manufacturing costs of UMTS cellular phones over the past year. The first generation of UMTS handsets, which support both the conventional GSM and high-speed W-CDMA protocols for wireless communications, were plagued by high system complexity and high cost when they were introduced in Europe and Asia in 2003, as well as by consumer complaints about product size and battery life.

According to the findings of "product teardown" analyses conducted by Portelligent on 11 UMTS handsets introduced over the past 18 months, products that have appeared in the marketplace since the beginning of 2004 reduce the average number of electronic components found in the handsets by over 25 percent. The average number of high-value ICs in the 2004 products - which are a strong driver of overall manufacturing cost - has declined almost 50 percent, as handset makers achieve more integrated designs, and as semiconductor makers come to provide more mature chipsets and technology platforms for UMTS phones.

In addition to the progress demonstrated in the transition from first-generation to second-generation UMTS handsets, 2004 UMTS products are much more competitive across a broad spectrum of system complexity metrics with handsets that support other so-called "3G" protocols, such as CDMA2000 and the W-CDMA "FOMA" (Freedom of Multimedia Access) phones offered in Japan by NTT DoCoMo.

While UMTS phones introduced in 2003 substantially exceeded W-CDMA/FOMA and high-end CDMA2000 products in average IC count and total electronic component count, 2004 UMTS handsets bring overall component count to a much more comparable level, and have actually lowered average IC count below that of the feature-rich FOMA phones that NTT DoCoMo has introduced in Japan this year.

The 11 handsets analyzed in Portelligent's UMTS study include models from NEC, Motorola, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, and LG. These 11 include examples of four of the five primary communication platforms that have emerged in the 3G UMTS market to date, involving chipsets from NEC/Agere, Motorola SPS (now Freescale), STMicroelectronics/TI, and Ericsson Mobile Platforms and its partners.

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