Bemused Qualcomm hints at telco interest

A senior official at US wireless vendor Qualcomm has disavowed any knowledge of the company which says it is involved in a local joint venture - and has hinted that a partnership with Telecom would be more likely to draw it into the New Zealand market. Meanwhile, while applicants for positions with the company are being told that the jobs are either "on hold" or have been withdrawn.

A senior official at US wireless vendor Qualcomm has disavowed any knowledge of the company which says it is involved in a local joint venture — and has hinted that a partnership with Telecom would be more likely to draw it into the New Zealand market.

Meanwhile, while applicants for positions with the company are being told that the jobs are either “on hold” or have been withdrawn.

As revealed recently by Computerworld, a company going by the name Qualmax approached the New Zealand Employment Service recently, looking to fill up to 500 positions in what it said was a joint venture with Qualcomm and a French company.

Some of the positions appeared to be for drivers and rooftop installers, suggesting that Qualmax could be a local licensee of the GlobalStar low earth orbit (LEO) satellite system, in which Qualcomm is a major investor.

But Dan Pegg a senior vice-president at Qualcomm in the US, says he has “checked with the president of our GlobalStar division and every other division, and there is no knowledge anywhere in the corporation, from the chairman to the presidents to the HR department, with any regard to Qualmax or 500 employees or any relationship like that.

“As far as Qualmax is concerned, I have no idea what they are doing, they are not known to anybody here, and as far as our licensing somebody our technology, we don’t have anybody with that name to which we have licensed anything.”

Some of those who asked about positions either as a result of advertisements at NZES offices or subsequent to Computer-world’s story, have been referred to the email address nzmax@hotmail.com. But one applicant, a radio engineer, says he has been told the project is “on hold” and nothing is happening until “some problems are sorted out”. Another was told last Wednesday that the positions have been withdrawn.

NZES confirms that the project is “on hold” but remains confident that its client is genuine. Spokesman Howard Vickridge declined further comment, but indicated that the service had been in discussion with the company.

Pegg, meanwhile, says Qualcomm is interested in the [New Zealand] marketplace, but satellite is “probably not the way we would do it”.

“I really don’t understand the technology these people seem to be deploying.

“We would be delighted to participate in the development of the wireless market down there, but we would probably find a local service provider who is already established, perhaps with AMPS, and wanted to upgrade to digital, and work through them.

“In the case of service providers who are licensing GlobalStar, their customers would have access to satellite connections for their wireless handsets wherever they go in the world. It will free up considerably those who are using terrestrial systems and find themselves in locations where they can’t connect.”

If Telecom were to upgrade its cellular network to the CDMA technology developed by Qualcomm, it would set up an intriguing digital rivalry with the GSM-based network currently owned by BellSouth.

Telecom spokesman Clive Litt says Telecom is interested in CDMA, among other technologies, but has not had any discussions with Qualcomm.

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