Practical Technology

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Qualcomm & Atheros: The Marriage of 4G and Wi-Fi


The biggest technology news this week didn’t come from CES in Las Vegas. No, the biggest news story was that Qualcomm, a major mobile phone radio silicon player, is buying Atheros, one of the leading lights of Wi-Fi silicon. Put them together and what do you get? I’ll tell you what you get; you eventually get PCs, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, whatever, that can cheaply connect with both 4G and Wi-Fi networks.

Universal connectivity is one of the big CES themes. As NPR’s Laura Sydell said she’d seen “more Internet-connected devices than I’ve ever seen [before] at CES and some of them are talking to one another.” Of course, people at CES are also seeing how all this connectivity can fail, and I mean really fail as Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang will be “happy” to tell you all about that.

Besides there just not being enough bandwidth to go around at CES, one of the things they’re not telling you at CES is how hard it is to put all that 3G, 4G and wireless technology into a single device. That’s why I thought the news that Sierra Wireless bringing ready to go 4G for device OEMs was noteworthy news. This isn’t easy to do.

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