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Qualcomm, Broadcom team on Bluetooth

Wireless specialist Qualcomm and chipmaker Broadcom announce a deal that both say will yield more North American cell phones that use the wireless standard.

Wireless-technology company Qualcomm and communications-chipmaker Broadcom announced a deal Tuesday that both say will yield more North American cell phones that use Bluetooth, a wireless standard.

Bluetooth creates a very powerful wireless connection between devices, but its range is only a matter of inches. After years of hype, the standard is being included inside electronic devices. Some computer manufacturers use Bluetooth to replace the wires connecting keyboards and mice. Cell phone makers add Bluetooth so phones can exchange calendar or contact items with computers or serve as modems for laptops.

Tuesday's deal is meant to push Bluetooth into many more phones that use CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access), a Qualcomm-controlled phone standard popular mainly in North America and Korea. Very few phones using CDMA now contain Bluetooth. By comparison, about 20 percent of phones using rival standard GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) use Bluetooth, according to Scott Bibaud, Broadcom director of Bluetooth marketing. About two-thirds of the world's phones are based on GSM.

"We hope to expand the use of Bluetooth technologies on (next generation) wireless networks throughout the world," Qualcomm CDMA Technologies group president Sanjay Jha said in a statement.

According to the terms of the deal, Qualcomm will add Broadcom's Bluetooth radio into chipsets and designs it sells or licenses to handset makers. The radio will accompany a Bluetooth processor that formats and processes data to transmit over the air. Some of these new chipsets and designs are already being shipped to customers, according to a Qualcomm statement.

The two companies say the Qualcomm processor and Broadcom radio were designed to work well in tandem, eliminating the testing and compatibility headaches manufacturers usually have when combining products from two companies.