Broadcom splashes out on Beceem chip maker

Broadcom has agreed to acquire Beceem Communications, a maker of chips for 4G LTE and WiMax devices, for $316 million in cash.

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Broadcom has agreed to acquire Beceem Communications, a maker of chips for 4G LTE and WiMax devices, for $316 million in cash. The acquisition is a logical one for Broadcom, a major vendor of chips for many wired and wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi, GPS (Global Positioning System) and 3G (third generation) mobile data. Broadcom said adding Beceem's engineering team and technology will help it get 4G chips to market sooner.

The proposed deal has been approved by the boards of both companies but is subject to regulatory and other closing conditions. Broadcom expects the acquisition of Beceem, a privately held company, to close in either the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year.

Beceem has products both for WiMax, the first 4G mobile system commercially deployed, and for LTE (Long-Term Evolution), the choice of a growing number of mobile operators that are preparing to launch 4G services. Earlier this year it announced a chip that integrates both WiMax and LTE, saying it would go into mass production in the second quarter of next year. Dual mode 4G components may be critical for service providers that are deploying WiMax today but decide later to follow the tide toward LTE. Even Clearwire, which is building a national WiMax network around the US, has said it plans trials of LTE.

As much as 2010 has been a year of 4G, it has also been a year of acquisitions. Intel, which competes with Broadcom in the mobile arena, announced in August it would acquire the wireless division of chipmaker Infineon Technologies for $1.4 billion. That deal is expected to help Intel in the smartphone and tablet market while combining Intel's own 4G technology with Infineon's 3G products.

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