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Altair LTE Chip Integrates M1, NB1

March 14, 2017

Author: Loring Wirbel

Altair Semiconductor hopes to cover the IoT waterfront with its new ALT1250, an LTE baseband device that’s compatible with both the Category M1 and Category NB1 standards for low-data-rate communications. The chip is a successor to the ALT1150/1160 line, which the company developed before the 3GPP added new IoT options in LTE Release 13. The baseband/transceiver pairs with an RF front end, the ALT1910, to provide what Altair calls “OneSKU” capability, enabling multiple LTE-band combinations (including FDD and TDD) in one hardware implementation.

The ALT1250 is the first new Altair chipset since the company was acquired by Sony one year ago. True to its promises at the time, Sony has allowed Israel-based Altair independence as a wholly owned subsidiary, and it has invested enough money in product development to ensure several generations of LTE/5G designs for industrial and IoT applications. Altair continues to gain traction with its ALT1160 Cat1 chipset, which serves in a Verizon-certified module by Asiatelco for consumer and industrial IoT products. Ownership by a Japanese conglomerate is no liability. Though Altair’s main competitor is the Paris-based startup Sequans, larger players such as Intel and ARM are trying to enter the M1/NB1 market.

Qualcomm’s ability to expand its LTE IoT presence will depend in part on its completion of the NXP acquisition and on integration of that company’s technology. Intel is a late entrant in this sector, though its LIQD precertification program and its sheer size could make the company a formidable competitor.

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