Sequans Starts Mobile WiMAX Race

With Clearwire and the launch of WiBro, WiMAX and its mobile derivatives have been in the news a lot lately. The latest is Paris-based Sequans, a fabless semiconductor company, which says it has started shipping its mobile WiMAX station chips to test with its customers, for use in mobile devices like cell phones, PC cards, and USB dongles, as well as fixed devices.

The company is part of a gaggle of start-ups that are pushing mobile WiMAX silicon, and now that Korea’s WiBro network is officially up and running there’s actual customers. Sales of WiMAX equipment is estimated to top $3 billion by 2010 says research firm Instat. Fujitsu, Runcom, TeleCIS, Wavesat, and Samsung are all competing for business, and Korea’s WiBro network will be a really interesting test case to see which WiMAX chip companies find favor with phone makers and operators.

A few months ago Sequans managed to score a major partnership with LG to supply WiMAX chips to LG’s consumer electronics. The deal could be seen as way for LG to team up with a savvy startup, to compete against WiBro king and archrival Samsung. The Samsung/LG rivalry is intense, and will just get more so over WiMAX. (Though Samsung seems to be solidly winning for now.)

How intense is the rivalry? How about LG PR people making me take off the CTIA badge for an interview, because the event was sponsored by Samsung!