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Qualcomm readies new wireless Internet strategy

The wireless communications firm and chipmaker plans to unveil its wireless Internet strategy and demonstrate new high-speed data technology next week.

Qualcomm plans to unveil its wireless Internet strategy and demonstrate new high-speed data technology next week, according to the company.

The San Diego, California-based wireless communications firm and cell phone chipmaker is attempting to gain support for its next-generation wireless data technology by touting its low cost and capabilities for high speed, analysts said.

Qualcomm plans to unveil its newest wireless technology, High Data Rate (HDR), at an event on Monday.

The HDR technology will work with fixed and mobile devices including cellular phones, handheld computers, and wireless modems for laptops, a company spokeswoman said.

The technology allows for mobile data transmission rates of up to 2.4 mbps (megabits per second), according to a spokeswoman. HDR, an Internet Protocol-compatible technology, transmits only data, not voice.

Analysts describe HDR as a "stepping stone" technology between today's slower wireless data capabilities and the blazing speeds expected with future wireless technologies known as 3G. Although estimates vary widely, many industry observers don't expect 3G technology to be available until after 2002.

US West and Sprint conducted trials of HDR earlier this year. Qualcomm plans to hold briefings next week with equipment manufacturers and wireless carriers to garner support for the technology. Because HDR is an incremental upgrade that doesn't require gutting network equipment, analysts expect carriers' adoption costs to be low.

"The key is taking systems that are already in place and allowing them to transmit data at a higher rate with minimal cost and network disruption," said Ray Jodoin, senior wireless industry analyst at Cahners In-Stat Group. "It's the maximum bang for the buck, and I'm sure that's what they're going to talk about and pitch very heavily."

Qualcomm has been successful at creating industry-accepted technologies such as code division multiple access (CDMA), licensing its use to cellular handset makers and semiconductor manufacturers.

Investors have looked favorably on the firm, boosting Qualcomm shares significantly in the past year. This week the stock got a lift from better-than-expected earnings and a 4-for-1 stock split. Qualcomm shares have traded as high as 269.06 and as low as 24.5 in the past year.

Now Qualcomm hopes to replicate its CDMA successes with the HDR wireless Net access technology. The HDR announcement comes ten years after the first CDMA phone call was placed in November 1989, the company said.