Is that Intel Inside Your Cellphone?

Next-generation cellular telephones may have Intel Inside, thanks to a
development partnership announced this week by the world’s largest chip maker. The San Jose-based manufacturer said
it will work with Japanese cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc., to jointly develop next-generation microchips for mobile phones.

Intel spokesman William Giles confirmed that the company is working with NTT DoCoMo on cellular phone technology, but declined to provide further details of the efforts. The partnership was first reported in the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

Intel is not the only processor company looking for a foothold in the telecommunications space. As cellular telephone handsets
become more complicated and processors are called upon to perform more complex tasks, firms such as Samsung, NEC , and Hitachi have all announced desires to enter the mobile phone industry.

Earlier this year, IBM shocked the telecommunications world with a new rugged blade server optimized for the sector. Sun Microsystems is marketing a similar product, too.

The report said Intel and NTT DoCoMo would collaborate on microchips for use in seven different areas, including the Japanese company’s Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA), or third-generation (3G) phones, and future fourth-generation (4G) handsets.

It added that part of the collaborative effort will include the development of a chip that can handle video communications and image processing simultaneously, functionality that some eventually may help Intel boost its share in the cellular phone handset market.

In Japan, the agreement is expected to give NTT DoCoMo’s high-speed 3G service a much-needed competitive edge. The company’s 3G service had until recently met sluggish user uptake due to pricey handsets and short battery life. Since then, though the company has extended battery duration and cellular phone prices have dropped, the products
still compare unfavorably against dominant second-generation (2G)

Today NTT DoCoMo boasts 1.3 million users, a distant second
to rival KDDI Corp, which has more than 10 million subscribers and
offers its 3G service on a different technological format.

The new Intel/NTT DoCoMo 3G chips are expected to be ready by 2006.

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