Does Qualcomm's workaround work?


Does Qualcomm's Workaround Work? 
Qualcomm's answer to the U.S. International Trade Commission ban on the import of certain cell phones containing the firm's 1xEV-DO and WCDMA chip sets is a software "workaround" that the firm says doesn't infringe on any Broadcom patents.

Sprint Chairman and CEO Gary Forsee said during the firm's second quarter earnings call earlier this week that Sprint was exploring its options, which included using the Qualcomm technology solution. Qualcomm says other carriers and OEMs are following suit. But does the workaround work?

Yesterday during an RBC Capital Markets North American Technology Conference in San Francisco, Verizon CTO Dick Lynch cast some doubts on the vendor's patent infringement fix. Lynch said that the Qualcomm workaround only solved a problem with one patent but issues with other patents remained. And he said that the workaround "didn't meet the reputation requirements of our network."

Of course, Lynch may have been trying to justify his firm's agreement to pay up to $200 million to Broadcom to ensure that the carrier isn't infringing on the patents. "For us, this was a way to take the risk out of our business. I needed a resolution for my customers and my business," Lynch said, adding that the firm is no longer having conversations about getting devices that use the workaround.

And Verizon may not be alone. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that AT&T had inked a similar deal with Broadcom, although the details have not been confirmed.

Qualcomm, meanwhile, defends its workaround software. "We are confident in the technical performance of the new software. Customer acceptance of the new software has been strong," the firm said in a statement to FierceWireless.

The technology firm better make sure that its workaround solution is a fix--and soon. Not all operators can follow Verizon's lead and pay royalties to Broadcom to avoid any disruptions to their handset lineup. Sprint seems intent upon using the workaround and I suspect that many Tier 2 and Tier 3 operators are counting on this remedy as well. -Sue