Quellan: Chips for Noisy Cell Phones

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While startups and investors are clamoring over flashy mobile consumer applications, there’s a lot more mobile money found in the silicon — a fact that chip giants like Qualcomm and Broadcom know better than anyone. Quellan, a four-year-old Santa Clara-based startup knows this too. The company, which has raised over $20 million in two rounds from investors like Menlo Ventures and Samsung Ventures, designs and develops analog chips for electronic communications equipment that cancels “noise” or signal interference. The less noise, the better and faster the connection.

Recently the company has been working on getting its chip for cell phones ready to market, which Quellan CEO Tony Stelliga says will dramatically reduce dropped calls. At the IBF Conference Stelliga showed off a live demo of the mobile technology, and says the chips will be in phones on the market early next year and that OEMs are currently qualifying devices. Stelliga wouldn’t say what device makers the company is working with — “people don’t want to admit their products are noisy,” he says — but hey, Samsung is an investor, so that might be a logical deal.

A few years ago the company restructured and refinanced, and will also look to raise more funding next summer. Though, if Quellan is able to win over a lot of device makers with its mobile chips, the pay back could be big — Stelliga says a healthy analog chip company can make margins in the high 70% range. Quellan is also part of a recent resurgence of analogue chip companies that are finding analogue techniques can work better for some purposes like signal processing.

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“Stelliga says a healthy analog chip company can make margins in the high 70% range.”

Maybe in the data center (which is all that their web site seems to mention) but no way in a mobile phone. Their only chance in mobiles (IMHO) is licensing the IP to be integrated into the DBB and RF chipsets.

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