Sony to buy LTE chipmaker in IoT push
Altair Semiconductor (Hod Hasharon, Israel) was founded in 2005 and has spent the last decade building up its position as a supplier of LTE modem chips for mobile devices and mobile infrastructure. The company has raised about $135 million to date but its role as a 4G/LTE-only supplier has limited its sales into mobile phones.
However, Sony appears to be interested in Altair for the use of its technology in the Internet of Things. Altair has worked extensively in Japan over the passed years providing silicon for handsets and infrastructure and this has included partnering with Sony, according to reports.
Sony said it planned to expand Altair’s business while also linking it to Sony’s strength in image sensors, where it is the global market leader, to produce 4G-connected devices for wearables and the IoT. Sony’s interest in LTE makes sense as this provides the bandwith for data intensive images and videos to be uploaded.
Sony has moved away from pure consumer electronics – such as televisions and PCs – towards devices that are based on image processing and may have satellite location and 4G upload capability, such as smart cameras in industrial applications and automobiles. Altair has 200 employees, mostly in Israel, and was included in several iterations of EE Times‘ Silicon 60 list of emerging startups in the early part of this decade. The deal is expected to close in February 2016.