DoCoMo, 5 majors in semiconductor JV

Leading Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo has reached a basic agreement with five companies — Fujitsu  Fujitsu Semiconductor, NEC Corporation, Panasonic Mobile Communications, and Samsung Electronics — to establish a fabless joint venture company by the end of March 2012 to develop and sell semiconductor products for mobile devices.

The joint venture company, leveraging the six investing companies’ strong backgrounds in cellular communication technology and vast experience in application specific integrated circuits (ASIC) design and foundry manufacturing, will develop feature-rich, small-size, low-power-consumption semiconductor products equipped with modem functionality. The joint venture company will focus on developing products for LTE and LTE-Advanced mobile communication standards. The products will be sold in markets globally.

The envisioned joint venture company will be formed once all parties agree on the details, which are now being worked out through consultation. Following the basic agreement, and as part of preparing to form the joint venture company, DoCoMo plans to invest 450 million Japanese yen (€4.4m), to establish a wholly owned subsidiary, called Communication Platform Planning Co., Ltd. and headed by CEO Mitsunobu Komori, concurrently an executive vice president and Chief Technical Officer of DOCOMO, by the middle of January.

The JV is seen as a serious competitor  to Qualcomm, which currently dominates the baseband chip market with roughly 80 per cent share. Apple switched to using baseband chips from the CDMA inventor earlier in 2011 with the Verizon iPhone 4, eventually releasing the Qualcomm-powered GSM/CDMA iPhone 4S in October.

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