Qualcomm CEO: 3G can still answer mass market broadband prayers

Only not in Europe...
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

Only not in Europe...

Mobile phone technology provider Qualcomm is bullish about the 3G technology it sells - so much so it is touting its latest piece of kit as a way to provide broadband in some countries by bypassing local fixed line networks. Speaking to silicon.com, Qualcomm CEO Irwin Jacobs said: "That can absolutely happen. It can happen in old as well as new [spectrum] bands, bringing about completely new businesses." A handful of companies in the US are known to be trialling such delivery, for example in areas of the American West where population density is low and there is little prospect of wireline companies providing broadband. Qualcomm has been trumpeting the success of operators using its 3G technology. It is called CDMA2000 and although versions currently in use took a while to be accepted as 3G by the ITU and some analysts, they are comparable to the W-CDMA 3G standard agreed upon in Europe - often referred to as UMTS - and in other countries. Several years ago W-CDMA promoters were holding out the hope their technology would pick up straightforward broadband customers, as lab results showed bit rates of around 2Mbps. However, 'real world' trials and initial, limited roll outs show W-CDMA at levels that would not compete with fixed line rates or prices. Qualcomm derives around a third of its revenue from the South Korean market, yet the irony is that few Koreans would use its mobile technology for broadband access, the country being served so well by fixed line operators that around 67 per cent of households are already online at rates of at least 512Kbps. (See: http://www.silicon.com/a55920 for our recent report on broadband in Korea.) Kathleen Bendel, Qualcomm senior manager technical marketing, said CDMA2000 1xEV-DO will be an opportunity in countries or areas with low DSL or cable modem penetration. However, the problem for Qualcomm - and would-be wireless rural broadband users - is that few markets outside of those already using Qualcomm second-generation CDMA infrastructure will offer EV-DO. Even assuming broadband rates will be maintained as more users come onto a CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network - and Qualcomm promises 2 to 2.1Mbps - the technology is likely only to benefit a handful of users in the US and certain parts of Latin America or Asia.
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