The LTE modem in your next smartphone could be made by Sony

Igor Bonifacic

January 26, 2016 3:49pm

If Sony has its way, more than just its camera sensors will soon be in almost every smartphone.

On Tuesday, the company announced the acquisition of Altair Semiconductor for $212 million. Based in Israel and made up of former Texas Instruments employees, Altair has spent the past ten years developing and producing a variety LTE modems. While not quite a household name like Qualcomm, which integrates the LTE modems it develops directly into the Snapdragon SoCs it produces, Altair says it has shipped its chips to millions of customers around the world.

Sony doesn’t say it in so many words, but it’s clear the company plans to start manufacturing and selling Altair’s LTE modems to many of the same clients that purchase its camera sensor modules. The company also notes it will make a play for the emerging Internet of Things and wearable markets.

“With the acquisition of Altair, Sony aims to not only expand Altair’s existing business, but also to move forward with research on and development of new sensing technologies,” says a statement Sony sent to MobileSyrup this morning.

“By combining Sony’s sensing technologies – such as GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and image sensors – with Altair’s high-performance, low power consumption and cost-competitive modem chip technology, and by further evolving both, Sony will strive to develop a new breed of cellular-connected, sensing component devices.”

Sony expects to finalize the purchase sometime next month.

  • naviz

    Don’t think they’ll get much traction unless the modem is built into the SoC, otherwise those devices will have horrible battery life. Same goes for the image processing DSPs.

    • dirtyKIMCHI

      The focus of these modems has been towards IoT & other smart devices like wearables. A few widely available devices (in the US) have their chipsets like the Verizon Ellipsis 7 tablet, Asus C300 Chromebook LTE & HP Chromebook 11 LTE.