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New cell phones aim to connect standards

Kyocera introduces cell phones using Qualcomm's GSM1x technology, which bridges two cell phone standards that are not interoperable.

Cell phone maker Kyocera unveiled its first handset Tuesday that uses Qualcomm's GSM1x technology, which is used to bridge two cell phone standards that are not interoperable.

The handset, based on Kyocera's KZ850 model, will "immediately" become part of Chinese carrier China Unicom's ongoing GSM1x trial, Qualcomm said.

Kazuhiro Iwabuchi, Kyocera's general manager of mobile communications, promised that more handhelds will use the technology, but he did not provide additional details in a statement released Tuesday.

Qualcomm created GSM1x so cell phone carriers that use the world's most popular standard, Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), could also install Qualcomm's cell phone technology in their networks. GSM and Qualcomm's "1x" cell phone standards are usually incompatible.

Short for CDMA20001xrtt, 1x is built on the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) standard and promises to double voice calling capacity and create a wireless Internet with download speeds of 40kbps to 60kbps (kilobits per second). GSM carriers that build new wireless networks are usually limited to equipment that uses the GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) or EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) standards.

So far, adoption of GSM1x has been very slow, which industry insiders attribute to the technology's immaturity and its high costs. Just one other handset maker, Samsung, has announced plans for a GSM1x-compatible phone. Only one of the world's top cell phone infrastructure equipment providers, Nortel Networks, said it will make GSM1x products.

China Unicom is the only carrier conducting a GSM1x trial to date. However, Qualcomm Chief Executive Irwin Jacobs said earlier this year that European carrier Vodafone is also interested in using the technology because it operates a GSM network in Europe and is part-owner of U.S. CDMA carrier Verizon Wireless.