BrightWire and Marbridge Consulting report China Mobile (CHL -0.6%) has told its phone suppliers all 4G phones provided from May onwards must support five air interfaces - 4G TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, 3G TD-SCDMA and W-CDMA, and 2G GSM. Currently, OEMs can get away with supplying phones supporting only the three interfaces used by China Mobile - TD-LTE, TD-SCDMA, and GSM.
The move could benefit baseband chip giant Qualcomm (QCOM -0.4%), given the company's expertise in supporting a huge variety of air interfaces and frequency bands. That is, provided the Chinese government's antitrust probe doesn't get in the way.
Strategy Analytics estimates Qualcomm, buoyed by a dominant 4G baseband position (97% share as of Q1 2013), had a 64% 2013 baseband revenue share. But competition is intensifying: Intel, Broadcom, MediaTek, and Nvidia are all in the midst of launching 4G baseband parts.
Last November, Qualcomm announced the Gobi 9x35, a next-gen 4G baseband that offers theoretical max speeds of 300Mbps (2x its predecessor) and supports six air interfaces.