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Qualcomm rings up an MP3 accord

The mobile phone technology maker and a licenser for the digital music standard ink a deal that lets Qualcomm ship MP3 player software with its wireless software systems.

    Qualcomm, the mobile phone technology maker, and Thomson Multimedia, a licenser for the MP3 digital music standard, have signed a deal that lets Qualcomm ship MP3 player software with its wireless software systems.

    Under the agreement, announced Wednesday, Qualcomm has the right to integrate MP3 technology with its digital wireless software and integrated circuits, allowing users to play MP3 music files on their wireless devices, the company said in a statement.

    As a part of the deal, Qualcomm is now shipping MP3 player software with its CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) digital wireless technologies.

    The agreement comes just one month after the Internet music service MP3.com said it will develop music applications for cell phones based on San Diego-based Qualcomm's wireless software standard, BREW.

    Wednesday's agreement makes for yet another addition to the growing list of business partnerships that will help in the development of Qualcomm's wireless software applications for mobile phones.

    A large part of the technology underlying the MP3 music format is patented by the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, a huge research organization that counts audio technology as just one of dozens of disparate interests. The institute has licensed its rights to Paris-based Thomson Multimedia, which is in charge of collecting the patent royalties.

    "Even after having concluded more than 150 agreements for Internet software applications and dedicated player-recorder devices, we are excited to take the MP3 format into new arenas," Henri Linde, vice president of new business at Thomson, said in a statement. "Qualcomm's support of MP3 for the digital wireless market further solidifies the future of MP3."

    The market for wireless MP3 technologies heated up last year when Sprint PCS launched an online MP3 service connected with its mobile phones. The following week, MP3.com announced a service that allows users to link downloaded song collections to their wireless devices.