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Qualcomm chips in Siemens 3G phones

New deal between the two companies is another sign of the wireless industry's focus on the W-CDMA standard.

Qualcomm on Tuesday announced that it will supply Siemens with third-generation cell phone chips.

Under the deal, European phone maker Siemens plans to produce several lines that use the chips. Siemens competitors Motorola and Nokia make similar cell phones. Siemens did not disclose additional details of the upcoming high-speed phones.

Qualcomm last supplied the German handset maker with cell phone chips in the late 1990s, when Siemens made a run at the North American market, according to Luis Pineda, a Qualcomm vice president of marketing and product management.

The new deal between the two companies is another sign of the wireless industry's focus on W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), a third-generation, or 3G, cell phone standard on which the Qualcomm chips rely. W-CDMA connects at 384 kilobits per second, which is fast enough to give wired broadband providers a run for their money in some markets.

Nearly every handset manufacturer produces W-CDMA phones; meanwhile, a growing number of carriers--38--offer commercial W-CDMA services.

While the current amount of W-CDMA subscribers, 10.8 million, is negligible when compared to overall cell phone subscribers, there are some promising signs for the standard.

In the last quarter, another 2.5 million subscribers signed up for W-CDMA plans, a growth rate faster than major cell phone standards TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) and IDEN (Integrated Dispatch Enhanced Network), according to estimates from cell phone trade group 3G Americas.