According to a recent FCC filing, Qualcomm is hard at work on a new radio chipset that would support seven spectrum bands, including three below 1GHz. The introduction of this chipset could offer an effective solution to LTE spectrum fragmentation, which is a thorn in the side of manufacturers looking to cleanly execute broad product releases.
LTE fragmentation has also stirred debate among carriers, though. Smaller carriers operate within the Lower A block of the 700MHz band, in Band Class 12 while larger carriers like AT&T operate on the Lower B and C blocks in Band Class 17. For this reason, smaller carriers are urging the FCC to mandate interoperability. AT&T rebuts that mandating such interoperability would invoke harmful interference from Channel 51 broadcast transmissions, which is why it created Class 17 to begin with.
Qualcomm is looking to ease these woes by introducing a new chipset that would support three sub-1GHz bands, three higher bands, and one "very high band (such as 2.5GHz)."
In the filing, Qualcomm indicates that it has accelerated development of the chip, lovingly named WTR1605L. Qualcomm has timed the transition to this chip to match with its transition to 28 nanometer chips, and – despite supply constraints – expects that the first of these chips will begin shipping to manufacturers this July, with the first devices based on the chip to be in stores by the end of 2012.
Additionally, Qualcomm indicated in the filing that it will provide Lower A Block licensees that OEMs will be provided appropriate software for integration and testing to support LTE roaming on Bands 13, 17, and 25 (which is Sprint's PCS G Block).
The chip maker also tried to impress upon the FCC that it would be "inappropriate" to mandate the use of 28nm chips, as the transition to them (and the WTR1605L) is in its infancy. Further, it urges that the FCC should not mandate a Band 12/17 combination, as it is just one option for carriers "to meet their customer's interoperability needs, both within the 700MHz band and between any of the long list of other 4G bands."
A manufacturer move to this band-bundling chip could mean not only an end to band fragmentation, but a manufacturing cycle that doesn't require the integration of several radio chipsets. Those interested can find the complete FCC filing at the source link below.