Broadcom has launched a complete "platform" for 3G handsets, integrating a number of technologies it's acquired over the past several years, and resulting in 3G handsets that can be manufactured for under $100, the company said.

The price point is a milestone for 3G handsets, which industry analysts say have been held back from reaching the mainstream by their cost. The CellAirity platform, introduced at the 3GSM trade show in Barcelona, is based on the WEDGE (WCDMA + EDGE) chipset, includes basic multimedia hardware and software features, and can be expanded with add-ons such as a 4 megapixel camera.

The first generation of the WEDGE chipset was introduced a year ago, and Broadcom expects a major vendor to introduce a handset based on the second-generation product by the middle of this year, according to Yossi Cohen, senior vice president and general manager of Broadcom's Mobile Platforms Group.

CellAirity supports Broadcom's MStream technology, also announced on Monday, designed to improve speech and signal quality and to reduce the frequency of dropped calls. MStream is one of Broadcom's recent acquisitions.

The platform is based on the BCM2133 EDGE processor and the BCM2141 WCDMA processor. The BCM2133 integrates multimedia features such as a 2 megapixel camera, video record and playback, stereo MP3 player, 64-tone polyphonic ringtones and TV-out.

Broadcom is hoping to lure handset manufacturers to the CellAirity with the promise of expandability - the same platform supports a number of high-end add-ons, such as a 4 megapixel camera, VGA 30 frames per second video record and playback and 3D graphics. Other optional hardware includes a dedicated multimedia processor, a VoIP processor and Broadcom's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips.

Broadcom's Bluetooth chip - to be precise, the BCM2045 Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) Bluetooth chip - also forms the basis for the BCM2048 device announced in Barcelona, integrating FM radio with Bluetooth. The chip means FM radio can be added into handsets supporting Bluetooth at minimal extra cost, accoding to Broadcom.

The WEDGE chipset is currently sampling to some Broadcom customers; other CellAirity components are already shipping in production volumes.

Other Broadcom news at 3GSM include a demonstration of the company's HSDPA system, with throughput of up to 7.2 Mbit/s; the launch of software for easily setting up Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections; and the demonstration of video-phone technology for wireless handsets and desktop IP phones.