Intel Expands Its LTE Networking Efforts

The giant chip maker buys LTE and other networking patents from Aware, and partners with Huawei to build an LTE TDD test lab in China.

Intel executives, continuing their efforts to expand the company€™s reach beyond its core PC and server chip businesses, are turning their attention to LTE networks.

The world€™s largest chip maker in a matter of hours April 27 disclosed that it was buying network-related patents from Aware€”which sells software and technology products to the telecommunications and other industries€”and partnering with Chinese networking giant Huawei to build a testing and interoperability laboratory in that country.

The Huawei partnership will give Intel access to Huawei€™s networking infrastructure on which to test its mobile technology for Long-Term Evolution time division duplex solutions. LTE TDD is a 4G communications standard that is expected to be widely adopted in countries like China and India.

"Collaborative innovation is Intel€™s strategy in China," W.K Tan, vice president of the Intel architecture group and head of Intel's mobile and communications group in China, said in a statement. "The engagement with Huawei will take advantage of the two companies€™ strengths and leading technologies. We are committed to working together with partners in China to build a healthy LTE TDD ecosystem within China and even beyond."

Deng Taihua, president of LTE TDD, WiMax and other wireless networks for Huawei, said the company is looking to push commercial deployments of LTE TDD globally, and that the company will €œcontinuously invest in LTE TDD research and deployment as well as the global expansion of LTE TDD networks.€

The $75 million deal with Aware, a Bedford, Mass., company, will bring a host of patents surrounding LTE, WiFi and home networking technologies. It also gives Intel some protection in an industry that is becoming increasingly litigious over technology patents.

The moves with Huawei and Aware are not Intel€™s first in the area of 4G networking. The chip maker in 2004 began working with the WiMax standard and partnering with Clearwire, which initially pushed WiMax as the standard for 4G and had plans to develop networks based on Intel silicon. Several years later, Intel was still backing Clearwire, and even WiMax adoption was faltering.

Clearwire officials last year said the company would migrate its efforts from WiMax to LTE, a standard that has seen a greater embrace from wireless carriers.

Intel has been aggressive in recent years in its efforts to expand its reach. The company has made mobile computing a key target, seeking to take some of the booming smartphone and tablet markets away from ARM Holdings, whose chip designs can be found in most of the mobile devices. Intel is looking to leverage is new Atom Z2460 Medfield platform and new Ivy Bridge 3rd-Generation Core chips to get traction in the smartphone and tablet spaces, and to grow adoption of Ultrabooks, which are very thin and light notebooks that the company has been pushing. The company last year also bought Infineon Technologies€™ mobile chip business for $1.4 billion.

On the networking side, Intel has bought Ethernet chip vendor Fulcrum Systems and the Infiniband business of QLogic. Most recently, Intel on April 25 announced it was buying the networking assets of supercomputer maker Cray for $140 million.