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Intel Delivers the Promise of Global 4G LTE Roaming

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Intel is hoping to rule the world’s mobile broadband airwaves with a single LTE modem that would be compatible for global roaming. Potentially, this means that any smartphone with Intel’s LTE modem could work on any LTE network around the world. The modem was demonstrated at the Computex show in Taiwan for the first time.

“The Intel® XMM 7160 is one of the world’s smallest and lowest-power multimode-multiband LTE solutions and will support global LTE roaming in a single SKU,” the company says in its press release.

This new modem would allow Intel to compete against Qualcomm’s Gobi LTE modems.

Intel-logoA specific release date for the Intel XMM 71660 LTE modem was not mentioned, nor did Intel disclose any OEM or hardware partner that will be picking up the LTE modem solution. The company demonstrated the modem alongside the new 22 nm Silvermont micro-architecture that will be part of the next-generation quad-core Atom Bay Trail-T chipset. There’s been recent murmurs that Intel may re-name the chipset to Pentium or Celeron to distance itself from the Atom branding, which was viewed under a negative light with the netbook phenomenon.

Intel’s Bay Trail Atom CPU will be arriving in tablets for the 2013 holiday season, so likely some of those tablets will be shipping with the LTE modem inside. Potentially, from a data perspective, this means that a 4G LTE tablet, smart camera, or data-only accessory could work, at least in the U.S., with the same chipset on Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, or T-Mobile LTE networks when unlocked.

We’re hearing rumors that Samsung may be switching to Intel’s dual-core Atom processor design on a forthcoming Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 slate. Potentially, Samsung could pair the Atom processor on its tablet with Intel’s new LTE data modem to allow global roaming.

Given T-Mobile’s UNcarrier initiative and Verizon’s open-ness to switching to no-contract plans, Intel’s chipsets could provide tremendous value to consumers who may want to switch carriers as they can have their data device unlocked and re-used on any carrier of their choice. For global travelers, this means using the same tablet in the U.S., Europe, Asia, or anywhere where there is LTE support. Global roaming while using your existing carrier’s billing and data plans would still require a roaming agreement between carriers, which still isn’t yet available.

And for retailers, this means that they can support one device model, rather than having separate models for different carriers. It will eliminate confusion and allow retailers to not complicate their stock or inventory.

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

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