700MHz Bidders

3:54 PM -- It is pretty fascinating that Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has decided to bid on the 700MHz wireless broadband auctions in January 2008.

The CDMA kingpin already has 700MHz products for CDMA and WCDMA. If it wins spectrum -- and that's a big if -- could the chipmaker follow up with a network. (See Qualcomm Supports 700MHz.) It is not impossible. In 2005, Qualcomm built a 3G multicast Forward Link Only (FLO) mobile TV network so that carriers could see the technology in action. Another testbed for so-called 4G technology might help it win next-generation wireless contracts. (See Tech Roundup: Verizon Goes MediaFLO.)

Could this mean the return of Flarion's wireless technology at 700MHz? I don't know yet. It is worth noting, however, that one of Flarion's Flash-OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) benefits is that the technology is quite spectrum-efficient. (See Qualcomm Calls on Flarion.)

Flash-OFDM uses a modulation scheme that can support an average data rate of around 1.5 Mbit/s for users in a standard, PCS-sized cell site, while using only 1.25 MHz of spectrum. This is more bandwidth-efficient than current cellular networks.

This could be important because winners of the 700MHz auction will have less radio capacity to play with than 2G and 3G networks.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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