SPOTLIGHT: What will QUALCOMM do with Flarion?

As QUALCOMM expects to close its acquisition of Flarion in the next couple of days, the big question is: What is the CDMA innovator going to do with the company? QUALCOMM has been undergoing a period of enforced silence when it comes to its intentions with Flarion as it seeks regulatory approval for its $600 million acquisition of the company. The deal is believed to be founded on Flarion's IPR and its ability to demonstrate OFDM mobility.

The question now is whether QUALCOMM will push a competitor to WiMAX using Flash-OFDM, join the WiMAX fray or simply enforce the IPR its gained from Flarion. Based on QUALCOMM's disparagement of WiMax and its recent moves in 802.20, the vendor is giving a hint as to where it might be heading.

QUALCOMM recently jump-started the 802.20 standardization process again by submitting a proposal for a broadband mobile solution based on OFDMA and CDMA, not Flarion's technology. The 802.20 standards process was initially started by Flarion to commercialize Flash-OFDM, but political maneuvering from QUALCOMM and others had slowed down the process.

Analysts point out that QUALCOMM will likely change its proposal to match that of Flash-OFDM, or at least make it an additional profile to the proposal once the acquisition of Flarion is final. Flash-OFDM is the only OFDM technology that is proven to work in a mobile environment, a key advantage to commercializing any mobile OFDM technology. QUALCOMM will dominate the standards process as it holds an estimated two-thirds to three quarters of the votes in the 802.20 working group. Flash-OFDM could also be pushed as part of future enhancements to 3G standards. Release