Qualcomm expands beyond smartphones with Wi-Fi 7 front-end modules

Qualcomm expands beyond smartphones with Wi-Fi 7 front-end modules

Technology News |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

Qualcomm has announced the addition of new RF front-end (RFEE) modules to its portfolio designed for Wi-Fi 6E and the new Wi-Fi 7 standard, which are aimed at extending the use of its RFFE products beyond smartphones to reach out to new industries and a wide array of device categories, including automotive, XR, PCs, wearables, mobile broadband, and industrial IoT.

The Wi-Fi 7 RFEE modules have been designed to complement Qualcomm’s recently announced ultraBAW filter technology, which allows spectrum access up to 7 GHz, and enables implementation of the company’s unique Wi-Fi 7 feature High Band Simultaneous Multi-Link.

“With Qualcomm Technologies’ new products, we are extending our RFFE leadership into automotive and IoT, helping OEMs address their massive industry-specific challenges like development cost and scalability,” said Christian Block, senior vice president and general manager, RFFE, QUALCOMM Germany RFFE GmbH. “OEMs using our RFFE modules can design products with higher performance, longer battery life and reduced commercialization time, ultimately accelerating the pace of innovation and delivering improved experiences to consumers.”

Manufacturers use these Wi-Fi RFFE modules modules to quickly and cost-effectively develop Wi-Fi client devices. The new modules feature 5G/Wi-Fi coexistence capabilities, and complement Qualcomm® ultraBAW™ filters to allow 5G/Wi-Fi concurrency, enhancing wireless performance in cellular devices.

Manufacturers can use the new modules along with Qualcomm Technologies’ client connectivity products, such as Qualcomm® FastConnect™ 7800 Wi-Fi 7/Bluetooth Systems and Snapdragon® 5G Modem-RF Systems – for cutting-edge wireless such as those devices featuring Snapdragon® Connect. Or they can use 3rd party Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chipsets along with the modules.

David McQueen, Research Director at global technology intelligence firm ABI Research comments: “The expansion of Wi-Fi into the 6 GHz band and the emergence of the new Wi-Fi 7 standard are causing unprecedented technology complexity and challenges in the way the radio is designed and implemented. These challenges are very similar in nature to those encountered by the cellular industry when migrating to LTE Advanced Pro and 5G, which has pushed many smartphone OEMs to delegate their RF system design to Qualcomm. In a similar fashion, creating high-performance Wi-Fi modems will not be enough to differentiate in the Wi-Fi 7 market if this is not aligned with strong radio designs using cutting-edge RFFE components. This is where Qualcomm’s latest offerings are brought into stark relief, building on the company’s unique expertise and know-how through offering end-to-end cellular connectivity solutions from the antenna to the modem. With these new Wi-Fi FEMs, Qualcomm has put itself in a prime position to leverage this expertise in the increasingly complex Wi-Fi technology landscape, to address new market opportunities beyond smartphones and support both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity across multiple markets. Not only will the new FEM solutions enable Qualcomm to raise competitive barriers to its rivals in the Wi-Fi 7 market, but the company could also generate scale for these solutions, offering them at competitive price points in both cellular and Wi-Fi markets.”

“While Qualcomm’s latest modules can be used with 3rd party Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modem chipsets, there is industry conflict between those companies that provide RFFE components in close collaboration with others to offer total systems, such as Murata and Qorvo, and those that have end-to-end designs, Broadcom for example. The companies that win out and gain industry support will need to demonstrate that their solution is able to improve performance, reduce time-to-market, lower overall costs, and allow flexibility and customization. Such metrics will become ever-more important for end-device differentiation notably as the battleground extends into markets beyond smartphones.”

In fiscal year 2021, Qualcomm Technologies reached the top position in RFFE revenues for handsets. The introduction of the new RFFE modules aligns with the company strategy to extend handset leadership with modem-to-antenna solutions into automotive and IoT – positioning Qualcomm Technologies to be a global RFFE revenue leader across various industries.

The new front end modules are currently sampling to customers.

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