Design firms step up UMTS mobile work

Design firms step up UMTS mobile work
Melanie Reynolds UK mobile communications design companies are pressing ahead with UMTS third generation mobile phone development in time for the auction of licences this year. “The whole industry is speeding up now because the licences are being auctioned in the UK in the third quarter of 1999,” said Paul Morris, Symbionics’ UMTS business development manager. Symbionics is working on digital ICs, the protocol and a dual-mode radio, and already has several manufacturing partnerships. Its development team of ten was substantially boosted when it was bought by US firm Cadence Design Systems last year but Morris was unwilling to give details. Telecom Modus, the ERA Technology and NEC joint venture, currently has 65 staff which will increase to 100 by June. It has produced a wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) test bed system which is being trialled by BT. Royston-based The Technology Partnership (TTP) communications division team now stands at 100, although not all are working on UMTS. The company is working on building its intellectual property base. “We’re developing core technology internally to differentiate ourselves,” said Dr Tony Milbourn, head of TTP’s communications division. It has also set up a UMTS consultancy which is headed by Dr John Haines, a founder director of Ionica. Meanwhile, Lucent Technologies is developing basestation products including the air interface. It was looking for 100 engineers for its Swindon site last year but was unable to confirm current numbers. “We have recruited and we will still be recruiting,” said a spokeswoman. None of the firms are worried by the current CDMA patent row involving the likes of Ericsson and US firm Qualcomm. “We’re expecting it to be resolved soon,” said Dr Alan Carr, Telecom Modus’ technical director.


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