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Mitsubishi to Bring Qualcomm's CDMA to Asia

Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) digital wireless technologies, long confined to the U.S. due to the popularity enjoyed by the rival Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard, is making the leap to Asia.

QUALCOMM Inc., holder of the narrow-band CDMA patent, Friday inked a multi-million dollar, royalty-bearing deal to license the technology to Mitsubishi Electric Corp.

The agreement gives Mitsubishi the right to develop, manufacture and sell infrastructure equipment for third-generation (3G) CDMA -- including CDMA2000 1x/1xEV, TD-SCDMA and WCDMA -- in Japan, China and Taiwan. Under the agreement, Mitsubishi will pay QUALCOMM ongoing royalty rates.

"This agreement will enable Mitsubishi to facilitate the growth of 3G CDMA deployment and meet the demand for innovative wireless products and solutions in the Asian marketplace," said Steve Altman, president of QUALCOMM Technology Alliances.

Asian wireless providers, like European providers, primarily rely on GSM technologies. But QUALCOMM's 3G CDMA solutions bridge that gap by offering interoperability with GSM and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS), GSM's 3G alternative. And unlike GPRS, 3G CDMA technologies boost a wireless network's voice capacity as well as data capacity.

Still, much of the popularity of GSM is based on the fact that it is an open standard. Companies do not need to make licensing agreements or pay royalties to develop GSM technologies.

Meanwhile, Nortel Networks of Toronto on Thursday announced new contracts estimated to be worth more than $105 million for major expansions of GSM digital cellular networks in Hebei, Anhui and Guizhou provinces of China.