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Making Wireless ICs A Commodity

Years ago, it became apparent that the market for wireless devices had split into two major portions: products for infrastructure developers and products for consumers, i.e., those that would go into handsets and other products sold to the users of wireless networks. In the early days of wireless technology, few RF/microwave companies would deny that they were interested in participating in some form or another in the then burgeoning wireless market. In the early 1990s, this, finally, was that huge commercial market that would free the high-frequency industry from its dependence on military applications.

As the wireless marketplace evolved, however, to include every handheld or pocket-sized device imaginable, the price differential between items sold for infrastructure use and those for handsets has become dramatic. Of course, wireless products are also used in industrial, medical, and a variety of smaller markets. Still, it is the cellular communications market that represents the largest opportunity. Yet that dream of competing for sales into handset markets may have faded for some companies, given the required pricing structure. Few companies can match Avago's achievement of gain blocks (see below) for those prices, even in large volumes.

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