Qualcomm bets on superfast broadband over copper with latest acquisition

Qualcomm has entered into an agreement to acquire Ikanos Communications in order to speed up its efforts to build home gateways with integrated support for G.fast, which promises to offer hundreds of megabit per second over copper.

If all goes according to plan, Ikanos will become part of the company’s Qualcomm Atheros subsidiary. Qualcomm seems keen on getting Ikanos, because it’s paying US$2.75 per share, compared to the $1.75 Ikanos’ shares were worth at the close of the market on Wednesday.

Qualcomm’s plan is to combine its own Wi-Fi, powerline, small cell, and ethernet chipsets with Ikanos wired modem technology to create a more complete offering for home gateway products, it said.

Fiber to the home remains the long-term vision for most operators, but they also see G.fast and their existing copper as good interim alternatives that lets them offer competitive speeds.

Ikanos earlier this year announced that it had successfully demonstrated G.fast data rates in excess of 1G bps at a distance of 100 meters over existing hybrid fiber-copper networks in Japan and Korea.

G.fast only works over short distances, up to 250 meters, so it can only used to connect subscribers to the nearest distribution point; the rest of the network must be fiber. Fiber can be deployed all the way to the basement of a building, and existing copper lines are then used for the final connection to the apartments, for example.

In Europe, British Telecom, Telekom Austria and Swisscom are also testing G.fast. Telekom Austria and Swisscom expect to launch commercial services next year. BT, on the other hand, is a bit more cautious and has stated its first services will come next year or in 2017.

G.fast technology isn’t the only thing Qualcomm will get its hands on with the Ikanos acquisition. Part of the company’s portfolio is also ADSL and VDSL technology as well as multi-mode gateway processor and accelerator technology for LTE and ethernet, according to Qualcomm.

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