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Qualcomm’s $3.1 Billion RF360 Acquisition Gives it “Modem to Antenna” Heft

Move brings in-house "20 years of expertise in RFFE filtering"

By CBR Staff Writer

Chipmaker Qualcomm has bought out the remaining interest in RF360 Holdings, a joint venture it set up with Japan’s TDK Corporation in 2017, saying ownership of the firm lets it offer “a complete end-to-end solution from modem to antenna”.

The move deepens Qualcomm’s 5G component portfolio as 4G chipset sales slump but 5G component opportunities grow, and gives it full ownership of a key supplier.

The acquisition is the final step to “formally bring in-house more than 20 years of expertise in RFFE filtering”, Qualcomm said today – referring to the range of components between the antenna and modem of a wireless device.

The total purchase price, including  initial investment, payments to TDK based on sales by the JV (51 percent owned by Qualcomm at formation), and development obligations, will be $3.1 billion, it said, buying out a remaining $1.15 billion interest.

“Qualcomm Technologies’ second generation RFFE solutions for its 5G portfolio will further enable OEM customers to design thin, high-performance, battery-efficient 5G multimode devices at scale and on time”, the company said today.

qualcomm rf360

High-end chip shipments by Qualcomm, as per a Q3 2019 earnings call presentation.

The move comes as Qualcomm looks to ramp up sales of smartphone components beyond modems, diversifying its portfolio further amid a range of industry headwinds including Apple’s long-term ambition to drop Qualcomm chipsets.

The acquisition gives it outright ownership of technologies used to support a wide range of frequency bands being deployed in networks across the globe as 5G is rolled out.

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Qualcomm said it now has “one of the broadest portfolios of RFFE products, including integrated and discrete micro-acoustic components utilizing RFFE filter technologies such as BAW, SAW, TC-SAW, as well as Thin Film SAW.”

All of these, the company added, “are core to developing and producing filters, duplexers, multiplexers for discrete, power amplifiers and diversity modules, as well as n-plexers and extractors for the very complex front end necessary for today’s leading mobile phones and connected devices.”

Read this: Huawei Comes Gunning for Qualcomm, Samsung with New Mobile SoC

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