Tech heavyweights team up on 3G

NEC, Matsushita, TI launch joint venture that aims to put competitive chips and platforms into 3G handsets.

A group of tech heavyweights have teamed up to develop hardware and software for third-generation cell phones.

NEC, Matsushita Electric Industrial and Texas Instruments announced Thursday that they have formed a joint venture, called Adcore-Tech, that aims to create "a competitive communications platform" for 3G handsets. The partnership also includes NEC unit NEC Electronics and Matsushita subsidiary Panasonic Mobile Communications.

3G technology on cell phones enables functions, such as Web surfing, that require more bandwidth and faster download speeds.

As part of the deal, Adcore-Tech will license communications chip technology to TI, NEC Electronics and Matsushita's semiconductor company. NEC and Panasonic Mobile will then incorporate the manufactured chips into mobile handsets, NEC said in a statement. Outside phone manufacturers will also be able to buy the developed chips directly from NEC and TI, as well as the software and accompanying services from Adcore-Tech.

Adcore-Tech will be a vehicle for "development, licensing, maintenance service and system evaluation of communications platforms for mobile phones," NEC said in the statement. Specifically, the companies aim to develop the chips and software for "the integration of music, video, broadcasting and other new technologies for Internet and high-speed, high-volume communications" in 2.5G, 3G and 3.5G handsets.

When Adcore-Tech is officially established in August, NEC and NEC Electronics will own a 44 percent stake in the company; Matsushita and Panasonic Mobile will have 44 percent; and TI will hold 12 percent. The president of the venture will be appointed by Panasonic Mobile, and the vice president will be an NEC appointee, according to a "tentative outline" of the new company.

The announcement comes as more companies are stepping up their plans for next-generation wireless technology. Earlier this month, Nortel announced that it had been chosen by Verizon Wireless to expand its 3G wireless network .

Sprint, before it merged and became Sprint Nextel, began building a 3G network based on what it calls Evolution-Data Optimized, or EV-DO, technology. Since the $6.5 billion merger with Nextel, the company has continued to expand that network. At a keynote speech in June, however, Sprint Nextel CEO Gary Forsee talked about plans for 4G wireless technology , which he said will allow for easier access to mobile TV.

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