Big new wireless player seems poised to set up in NZ

A major new player seems poised to enter the local telecommunications market - bringing major new technology with it. The New Zealand Employment Service has been asked to fill up to 500 positions on behalf of Qualmax, a joint venture between local interests, Qualcomm and "a French company". Qualcomm developed CDMA, the wireless solution which is seen as a challenger to GSM in the US market, and last month saw the launch of the first of 48 satellites planned for the new Globalstar Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications system, in which it is a major partner - along with France Telecom and the French-based telecommunications company Alcatel.

A major new player seems poised to enter the local telecommunications market — bringing major new technology with it.

The New Zealand Employment Service has been asked to fill up to 500 positions, in both Auckland and Wellington, on behalf of Qualmax, a joint venture between local interests, Qualcomm and “a French company”. Staff have been told the new company plans to “take on Xtra and ClearNet”. People with Internet skills are being sought and an announcement of the new company’s plans may be made as early as this week.

Qualcomm is known to most Internet users as the owner of the popular Eudora Internet mail products, but the greater part of its business is in developing and manufacturing digital wireless technologies.

Qualcomm developed CDMA, the wireless solution which is seen as a challenger to GSM in the US market, and on February 14 last month saw the launch of the first of 48 satellites planned for the new Globalstar Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications system, in which it is a major partner -— along with France Telecom and the French-based telecommunications company Alcatel.

Qualcomm has agreed not to make its CDMA technology available to any other satellite system, and says Globalstar will “provide uninterrupted service in remote areas of the world or in areas where service is currently not available”. The service is being pitched as a lower-cost option than other LEO projects.

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

Qualcomm also operates Omni-TRACS, a mobile communications system which uses geo-

stationary satellites.

Last week Qualcomm announced a deal with Alcatel in which the two companies undertook to make a strong worldwide push for service providers to adopt Qualcomm’s cdmaOne IS-634 wireless network solution, a combination of Qualcomm’s CDMA base station controllers and Alcatel’s 1000 S12 switching centre, which is due for imminent release.

In a US press release last week, Qual-comm described the new architecture as providing “an attractive option for price and performance-conscious operators who want deployment flexibility and not single-vendor proprietary solutions”.

Last month Qualcomm also said it had become the first CDMA vendor to offer support for mobile IP, the proposed Internet standard for mobile data use. It has implemented mobile IP on top of basic packet data, which utilises IP to data over a CDMA link. Qualcomm says packet data offers a direct connection to the Internet in “two to three seconds” and requires no “modem training time”.

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