Qualcomm announces Bluetooth 3G chip set

Qualcomm Inc. announced a new commercial chipset for 3G (third generation) mobile phones on Thursday, integrating a Bluetooth wireless connection with a basket full of other emerging cell phone technology.

Bluetooth technology uses a short range radio signal to exchange data between digital devices, while 3G technology permits a cellular phone to receive data at 144k bps, much faster than a standard dial-up Internet connection.

The MSM5100 Mobile Station Modem chipset with these two technologies is the brain of a phone around which a cell phone maker can build a body. It incorporates a GPS (Global Positioning System) device enabling the phone to be located by emergency workers if a carrier has adequate facilities to do so. It also has MPEG-1 (Moving Picture Experts Group) video player software, and MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) multimedia software.

The MSM5100 also supports Qualcomm's BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) applications platform, permitting mobile subscribers to download and run applications without straining the phone's central processor.

"It's the culmination of all the different initiatives Qualcomm has been working on," said David Berndt, director of wireless mobile technologies at the Yankee Group Inc. research firm. "You're going to be able to do all the things that they've been talking about all these years."

Bluetooth alone permits wireless headsets for mobile phones, letting a caller leave the phone in a briefcase while talking. Fast 3G Internet access means a caller could download music, e-mail or other data quickly to a phone. Together, the two technologies could be used to give high-speed Internet access to any Bluetooth-equipped device within the 10-meter range of the mobile phone.

The MSM5100 chipset works for CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) 2000 1x cellular networks, a version of 3G used by few European carriers but some North American and Asian carriers like Sprint PCS Group, Verizon Wireless Inc., and China United Telecommunications Corp. (China Unicom). Carriers plan to begin commercial trials of 3G services next year.

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