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The $20 cell phone is on the horizon


August 9, 2005

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August 10, 2005 Approximately 80 percent of the world's population has wireless coverage, though, only about 25 percent subscribe to wireless services due largely to the cost of mobile phones. This represents a huge opportunity for delivering mobile services to large sections of the world's population. In India alone, roughly 11 percent of its total population has telecom connectivity with a mobile subscriber base of 58 million. All of which makes Texas instruments latest cost-effective single-chip cell phone solution very significant – available in less than 12 months time, the chip will reduce the cost of manufacturing cell phones by around 30% and as Texas Instruments (TI) Chairman Tom Engibous announced, “the $20 cell phone is on the horizon.”

The announcement was made at a press event hosted by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), where TI Chairman Tom Engibous announced that TI had made a live phone call from India to Europe using its single-chip cell phone technology. Engibous made the phone call on a live cellular network, demonstrating the next step in TI's strategy to deliver a single-chip cell phone solution for ultra-low-cost handsets in emerging markets, such as India.

TI's new chip will enable handset manufacturers to capitalise on the burgeoning opportunities in India and other emerging markets worldwide.

"The mobile phone is already indispensable in established markets, and wireless will become even more useful in countries where today the availability of wired communication is limited," said Engibous in his remarks to the press. "TI developed its single-chip cell phone solution specifically to narrow the 'digital divide'. Our customers can use this technology to make ultra-low-cost handsets affordable in largely untapped consumer markets such as India, China, South America, Eastern Europe and other emerging markets."

TI announced last December that it had delivered the industry's first single-chip solution for mobile phones. Typical mobile phones require multiple chips to operate, which add to the overall cost. Developed through TI's advanced 90nm CMOS manufacturing technology, the single-chip solution is now sampling and targets the mass-market voice-centric marketplace. Leveraging TI's DRP (Digital RF Processor) technology, TI's single-chip cell phone solution integrates the bulk of handset electronics onto a single chip to dramatically reduce cost, power requirements, board area, and silicon area - performance factors that are crucial for high-volume entry-level mobile phones.

Developed initially for GSM/GPRS handsets, TI's single-chip cell phone solution is paving the way for future single-chip solutions for additional air interfaces. With a roadmap designed to even further reduce system costs, TI is committed to continuing to drive down overall handset costs for emerging markets.

Recognizing the need for affordable handsets in developing countries, the GSM Association (GSMA) introduced its Emerging Markets Initiative earlier this year. With a goal of delivering up to six million handsets in the first six months, GSMA is working with manufacturers to deliver products at a price point below US$40, with the potential to add 100 million connections per year.

"Continued innovation to design costs out of handset manufacture is a key factor in achieving greater affordability of mobility for developing markets," said Rob Conway, CEO of the GSM Association. "The GSM Association, having facilitated the creation of a new Ultra Low Cost handset segment, welcomes this announcement from Texas Instruments as another step in the industry's efforts to connect the unconnected."

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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