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Is the ultra-cheap radio network on the horizon at last?

Two mobile network semiconductor announcements, made over the past couple of weeks, highlighted the contrast between the ‘new and old’ ways of approaching radio network design. Ericsson opened a design center in Austin, Texas, focused on ASICs (application specific integrated circuits) for 5G and representing a significant investment in very expensive chips. Meanwhile, Sigfox said it was working on an “ultra-cheap disposable radio” which could be priced around 20 cents. Of course, these two radio efforts are targeting very different use cases and network types, but the Sigfox plan feeds into an increasingly lively debate. Are the high costs of optimized cellular radio networks really justified by their complexity and performance demands, or has the industry just been able to…

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