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Mobile

Agere makes headway in transistor market

The company signs a deal to supply NEC with RF transistors for its 3G wireless network, its second such contract in the past two weeks and a sign of its challenge to Motorola.

Agere Systems announced on Monday that Japanese giant NEC will use its radio frequency power transistors in third-generation wireless base stations.

Agere, known as a supplier of chips used for cell phone and Wi-Fi applications, announced a similar contract win with Sewon Teletech on Jan. 19. The South Korean company intends to use Agere's transistors to develop power amplifiers, which will sell to wireless equipment makers.

The RF power transistors, made with laterally diffused metal oxide semiconductor technology, use less power than other transistors and provide higher data rates for multimedia services, according to Agere. Because these devices consume less power, they promise to remain cooler, which leads to simplifications in product design and improved product reliability, the company said.

"The use of Agere transistors in our base stations will accelerate our company's 3G wireless equipment deployment during the next few years," Nobuhiro Endo, the general manager of NEC's mobile and wireless division, said in a statement. "Power efficiency is extremely important in a Wideband (Code Division Multiple Access) base station design, and Agere's transistors delivered the performance required."

Motorola dominates the power transistor market. But the deals signed in January suggest that Allentown, Pa.-based Agere, which entered the power transistor market only in March 2003 with 21 product announcements, is making headway.

The RF transistor is a key component in building power amplifier circuit boards, which are used in wireless bay stations to direct cellular telephone calls. The transistor boosts signals of voice, data and video in various frequency ranges before the signals are delivered to wireless subscribers.