Editor's Corner

Qualcomm and Flarion: WiMax Will Soon Get Some Competition

Yesterday's news that Qualcomm agreed to buy OFDM wireless broadband company Flarion Technologies is reverberating throughout the industry. Qualcomm now has access to a proprietary wireless broadband technology that has been praised both by carriers and end-users. Many expect Qualcomm to use Flarion's technology to shape the future of CDMA. Many predict that the next version of CDMA -- or the 4G of CDMA, if you will -- will be based around OFDM. In the shorter term, Qualcomm has said it plans to use OFDM technology to power its wireless multimedia platform, FLO. With this deal, it seems likely that Flarion's OFDM system will power FLO.

From a broader perspective, Qualcomm now has a proprietary wireless broadband technology with which to fight Intel's WiMax juggernaut. While Intel may have an early start, Flarion has achieved a great deal with few resources. The company has secured high-level trials and deals with carriers. Flarion's technology is ready and works today. Compare this with WiMax, which has yet to hit the market as a commercial system either in a fixed or mobile version. While Intel has plenty of partners and marketing dollars, Qualcomm has proven that it can win and win big with proprietary technologies. Many analysts and insiders have already ceded the broadband wireless market to Intel and its WiMax ecosystem. Now that Qualcomm has a solid proprietary OFDM technology, this market could soon open up to a new level of competition. - Stephen