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Pure-Play LTE Chip Maker Cottons to Low-Cost Tablets

Fabless chip company Altair is at once a specialist and a generalist. The company focuses exclusively on delivering LTE (News - Alert)-only solutions. However, it can support any flavor and any band of LTE its customers need.

Altair customers include manufacturers of all manner of end devices, from smartphones to tablets to other things like small wireless routers. Altair’s chips, which include both baseband modem and RF transceiver functionality, are embedded in such devices. The company says its products are the smallest, lowest power solutions in the industry. They are based on proprietary 4G Optimized OFDM Processor (News - Alert) technology and boast low power consumption. 

Most applications in which Altair technology is used today involve fixed broadband. However, Altair also sees strong opportunities with service providers like Verizon (News - Alert) that are aggressive in their LTE deployments.

Eran Eshed, an Altair co-founder, also is excited about the opportunity to provide chips for low-cost tablets in developing parts of the world. He tells TMCnet that PC penetration in India is near zero, so there’s big potential there for sub-$100 tablets. (Altair recently announced a partnership with Ingenic around tablets.) While 3G has been a flop in India, one of two of the world’s most populous countries, he adds, LTE is expected to go nationwide there in short order.

Eshed adds that because Altair’s technology is so broad in its ability to support different iterations and frequencies of LTE, the company can address both mainstream and niche applications, many of which competitors like Qualcomm (News - Alert) would overlook due to their limited size. He adds that Altair also offers such features as Ethernet interfaces, which Qualcomm does not.

Six-year-old Altair currently has 20 signed customers. The Israel-based company is venture capitalist-funded and employs about 150 people.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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