Intel's prospects as an end-to-end network chip supplier aren't clear, analysts said. The company has a spotty track record for penetrating the cellular market, including its attempts with WiMax and with smartphone chips, Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar said. And in this case, it's buying into a cloudy business.
"The small cell itself remains just swamped in hype and unrealized expectations," Schoolar said.
However, the acquisition should be good news for the small-cell industry, said analyst Ed Gubbins of Current Analysis. The business that Intel is buying has suffered from the slow ramp-up in small cells, he said.
"The Intel deal replaces a weak player with a very strong, stable one that has a much better chance of being able to meet the anticipated demand for scaling up small cells in the relatively near future," probably around 2015, Gubbins said in an email interview.
The Mindspeed acquisition is particularly important because the five biggest RAN vendors are customers, and the company's future was uncertain after the M/A-COM buyout was announced.
"Now they at least have some more visibility into the future, so they don't have to pause in their plans, waiting to find out about Mindspeed's fate," Gubbins said.