Telecom gets a BREW on

Telecom is evaluating technology supplier Qualcomm's BREW solution that would enable end users to download applications directly to their cellphones.

Telecom is evaluating technology supplier Qualcomm's BREW solution that would enable end users to download applications directly to their cellphones.

BREW (binary runtime environment for wireless) cellphones were being demonstrated at the launch of The Shed, Telecom's showcase of mobile technology housed at Auckland's Viaduct Basin and open to the public for the rest of the America's Cup season.

According to Telecom's mobile data group solutions manager, Gary Rogers, BREW will enable Telecom customers to take full advantage of the new CDMA network, JetStream Mobile.

"Think of it as a kind of operating system layer for your phone. That means developers can provide applications that the user can download and run on the phone. It's very similar to C++ which makes life easy for the developers."

Rogers says the first applications off the rank are games, and not the average cellphone games either.

"Qualcomm has been working with Electronic Arts and there are a bunch of games ready to go." Cut down versions of Tiger Woods Golf and World Cup Soccer 2002 were on show at The Shed.

Because Qualcomm has built the BREW technology into its chipsets, anyone with a Qualcomm phone already had the capability built in. If Telecom decides to launch the service, users would be able to download games to play either on their own or, eventually, between players over the CDMA network.

"You might pay $1 and have the game for a week, then it would disappear, or you might pay $10 and have the game for good."

Rogers says the development kit is free to download and use, but that developers would pay "a couple of hundred dollars" to get the game approved by Qualcomm. Then it would be included on Qualcomm's servers and available to any network provider around the world.

"We get a catalogue and can select which games we'd make available here in New Zealand. Once we check the box, it's all go."

Rogers says gaming is just the first type of application to be ported to the Qualcomm chipset - there are others in the pipeline, such as location-based services or instant messaging.

Whether Telecom adopts the new technology depends on a number of factors, says Rogers, and there is no specific time frame for the decision.

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