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May 24, 2013

Will Sequans' EZLinkLTE Line of Chips Help Gain Market Share?

Sequans Communications S.A. announced on Monday that it was developing a new line of 4G LTE chips known as EZLinkLTE. One of the main benefits of these chips is that they come with various front-end interfaces and features that in the past were provided by device designers. By deviating from that practice and providing these features at manufacturing time, Sequans seeks to help device designers reduce their costs and get their product to market faster.

The first specific EZLinkLTE module will be the VZ20Q, designed for the Verizon Wireless Network on bands four and 13. The VZ20Q is based on Sequans' Mont Blanc platform and SQN3120LTE chip with 3GPP release nine compliance and 150 Mbps download capability. Its support for Windows, Mac OS, Android, Linux and Google Chrome makes it suitable for mobile devices from smartphones to laptops.

With a market capitalization of $67 million, Sequans is a relatively small player in the chip industry when compared to giants like Taiwan Semiconductor and Broadcom, which have market capitalization in billions of dollars. Its stock price is in the $1.50 per share range, just slightly above the 52-week low.

It's understandable, therefore, that Sequans would do anything to give itself the proverbial shot in the arm, like starting development of the EZLinkLTE with a Verizon-compatible chip. Verizon, already the top wireless provider in the U.S., seeks to continue that dominance in the 4G LTE portion of the market.

With about 95 percent of their 3G network area also supporting 4G LTE, Verizon is installing small cells to fill in coverage gaps and maintain continuity in locations where 4G use is exceptionally heavy.

On paper, it appears that Sequans has taken the necessary steps to becoming a bigger force in the LTE chip market. A design that lowers development costs and time-to-market for device designers in a fast moving market; what amounts to a ringing endorsement by the largest U.S. wireless provider and multi-OS support is compelling. What remains to be seen is if the companies that make mobile devices feel the same way. Recent research seems to indicate that Sequans faces an uphill battle.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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