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Verizon phones pick up Qualcomm OS

Verizon Wireless says it will become the first North American carrier to use Qualcomm's BREW operating system. A spokesman expects the phone to debut by the end of the year.

Verizon Wireless said Thursday that it would use Qualcomm's new operating system in future phones, becoming the first North American carrier to do so.

The operating system, BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless), is San Diego-based Qualcomm's answer to Java. Cell phones with either language can download software to enhance gaming or messaging programs, for example.

Wireless carriers are looking for new ways to make money and are pinning some of their hopes on the notion that people will use their phones for more than just talking. Subscription models for premium content are among the many efforts, including an AT&T Wireless premium service for cell phone games.

Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeff Nelson said the Bedminster, N.J., company has signed deals with 19 companies to develop entertainment for BREW phones. He said the phones should debut by the end of this year.

BREW phones are now sold by Korean carrier KT Freetel, but have yet to debut in North America. Java phones have been sold by Nextel Communications since last April, and Nokia said it would be making more than 100 million Java phones during the next few years.