Riviera Roundup

CANNES, France -- 3GSM Congress -- As 40,000 radio heads pack their bags and evacuate Cannes, Unstrung picks its finest tidbits from this year’s annual wireless shmoozefest.

Quote of the week
“What’s going for us in Europe is that we aren’t Qualcomm. We are the alternative to Qualcomm:" Ronny Haraldsvik, VP global communications and marketing, Flarion Technologies, referring to Qualcomm’s rumored 4 to 5 percent royalty charge on every CDMA-based technology deployment.

The Flash-OFDM vendor spent the week promising that 2005 will be the year of commercialization for its technology in Europe. “We will have at least one nationwide commercial deployment this year,” said Joe Barrett, EMEA marketing director. Potential customers include T-Mobile International AG in Germany (see T-Mobile Favors Flarion ).

The company is also “working through several different standards processes," according to Haraldsvik. An original supporter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE)'s 802.20 specification, Haraldsvik raised eyebrows by declaring “that’s probably not where you will see us become a standard first.” (See Enter the MAN Haters.)

Reports suggest Flarion's CEO, Ray Dolan, is keen for Flash-OFDM to be adopted as part of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP)'s specifications.

GSM Body Mutes Qualcomm?
Mischievous sources tell Unstrung that the group behind the 3GSM event -- the GSM Association -- has barred CDMA stalwart Qualcomm from any speaker participation at the conference. Scuttlebutt suggests the association is concerned over the vendor’s stranglehold on CDMA technology, the traditional rival to the European GSM cellular standard.

The GSM Association has been quick to deny any such practice. “That’s fundamentally not true,” says a spokesman. “We see Qualcomm as a huge supporter of W-CDMA.”

Ou est la IPWireless?
UMTS-TDD vendor IPWireless Inc. kept a strangely subdued presence at this week’s event. Traditionally not one to miss a marketing opportunity, the alternative infrastructure company was notable by its absence in the main exhibition halls, opting instead to cozy up at the “Global UMTS TDD Alliance Showcase” in a local hotel.

David vs Goliath
A couple of deals from Europe’s vendor minnows caught Unstrung’s attention this week, hidden amongst the mountain of "news" releases spewed out by vendors. Spanish data services platform startup NetSpira Networks SL unveiled a customer win at Singaporean carrier MobileOne Ltd. (M1) (Singapore: MONE), taking its tally of announced deals to six (see NetSpira, Lucent Win Billing Contract and Czechs Czoose NetSpira). Meanwhile tiny network optimization company Arieso Ltd. backed up its previous grandiose claims with a win at U.K. carrier mmO2 plc (NYSE/London: OOM) (see O2 Chooses Arieso and Arieso Shouts Off).

Next stop, Barcelona, Spain 2006. Olé!

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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