Mobile phone designers recruit engineers for drive on UMTS

Mobile phone designers recruit engineers for drive on UMTS
Melanie Reynolds Mobile communications design companies in the UK aim to recruit more than 200 engineers this year as they gear up for the third generation UMTS mobile phone standard. Lucent Technologies, NEC and ERA Technology, The Technology Partnership and Symbionics are all recruiting staff to address the emerging standard which is expected to enter service in 2001. Lucent is recruiting 100 engineers to develop UMTS basestation products at its Swindon site. Lucent’s area of interest include the UMTS air interface which combines elements of wideband code division multiple access (W-CDMA) and time division/ code division multiple access (TD/CDMA) schemes. ERA Technology and NEC have set up a joint company, Telecom Modus, which will also employ 100 staff (see Electronics Weekly, April 8). The venture will allow NEC to gain access to ERA’s expertise in such areas as software radios and smart antennas, for use in its UMTS products. Meanwhile, Cambridge-based design consultancies The Technology Partnership (TTP) and Symbionics are also busy recruiting. TTP plans to increase its communications division team from 80 to 110 by the year end. The extra staff will cover an overall increase in activity but will allow TTP to move quickly once its UMTS objectives become clearer. TTP aims to develop hardware technology required by UMTS terminal manufacturers by the end of 1999. It is developing intellectual property, in the area of efficient processing of CDMA. “It is simply too early to have hardware,” stresses Dr Tony Milbourn, head of TTP’s communications division. Symbionics, which was recently bought by US chip design firm Cadence Design Systems, has a team of 10 working on UMTS. It is involved in standards work, particularly on the protocol side, and is working to set up partnerships with manufacturing companies. Concentrating on radio software, digital and DSP design, it has produced demonstrator systems that provide all the voice and data service functions for UMTS. Results from the demonstrators are being used to give feedback into the standards system. “We are trying to find out things as we build them so we can modify the standards,” explained Paul Morris, business development manager for UMTS. The next step in agreeing standard details is in June when the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) expects submissions regarding the basic principles of the system. The recommendations and conclusions from these discussions are expected in September. The protocol and standard should be finalised by the end of 1999.


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