Mystery still surrounds new Internet service venture

The mysterious company which has asked the New Zealand Employment Service to find hundreds of employees for its Internet service has still not emerged - and its apparent US partner, Qualcomm, has denied any link. But NZES spokesman Howard Vickridge says the service still believes the venture to be genuine, and another source suggests Qualcomm may be waiting on the purchase of a local firm before going public.

The mysterious company which has asked the New Zealand Employment Service to find hundreds of employees for its Internet service has still not emerged - and its apparent US partner, Qualcomm, has denied any link.

But NZES spokesman Howard Vickridge says the service still believes the venture to be genuine, and another source suggests Qualcomm may be waiting on the purchase of a local firm before going public.

As Computerworld reported last week, the NZES has been asked to fill up to 500 positions for Qualmax, which it was told was a joint venture between a New Zealand firm, US wireless and satellite specialist Qualcomm and a French company.

The only known point of contact with Qualmax - the email address nzmax@hotmail.com - is not particularly promising. Vicarage says he knows little more than that, "and even if I did, it wouldn't really be appropriate to discuss a client's details."

News of the venture has excited interest among some local telecommunications specialists look for a new challenge, but Qualmax will probably be looking for more footsoldiers than officers.

If the new venture is based around the new Globalstar Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications system, in which Qualcomm is a major partner (along with France Telecom and the French-based telecommunications company Alcatel), the local management infrastructure could be lean, with most staff dedicated to household installations.

Local and regional service providers for GlobalStar have already been signed up in 18 African countries, China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Finland, Russia, the Ukraine, Bermuda, Canada and throughout Latin America.

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