Qualcomm has entered into an agreement to purchase chip maker Atheros for $3.1 billion (£2 billion) in cash, the company said today.

The transaction has been approved by the Qualcomm and Atheros boards of directors and is expected to close in the first half of 2011, Qualcomm said in a statement.

By acquiring Atheros, Qualcomm is hoping to help expand the use of its products beyond cellular networks, it said.

Atheros is most well-known for its Wi-Fi chipsets. But the company also makes components for other technologies, including Bluetooth, Ethernet and GPS. For example, on Monday, the company announced a power-efficient combination of chips for Bluetooth and IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi, which can be used in notebooks, netbooks, desktops and tablets.

Because today's smartphones are expected to be equipped with an ever growing number of wireless and mobile networks, the more integrated they are with each other, the easier and more cost efficient it becomes for vendors to implement them.