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CDG adds fuel to wireless standards war

The scene is being set for confrontation at the ITU

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Following-on from Qualcomm's decision to withdraw co-operation on W-CDMA licensing last week, the CDMA Development Group (CDG) has fanned the flames by submitting a policy for world-wide wireless spectrum allocation to the US delegation to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Qualcomm's beef is largely with the European wireless companies who dominate ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute), and like the CDG it is concerned that it should be able to influence global standards-setting in favour of its own CDMA technology. W-CDMA is a component of the UMTS standard agreed by at ETSI earlier this year, but the Europeans have made it abundantly clear that they're not writing blank cheques for it, and the feting of Japan's NTT DoCoMo and its W-CDMA technology at CeBIT in March was in that sense highly significant. The CDG's intervention is also intended to increase cdmaOne's muscle in negotiations, but does so by leveraging the tensions between the US and European approaches to telecoms standards. Its policy paper says that "market forces, not government mandates," should determine "the most appropriate access technology." European policy is of course defined, if not actually dictated, by government mandate, which is where UMTS came from. The ITU meanwhile will shortly be defining global third generations standards for IMT-2000, and while UMTS will be proposed for this, it seems clear that the CDG is going to fight it hard, and that sparks will fly. (NB - it has been drawn to our attention that studies conducted by several major wireless companies have found no evidence that sparks do in fact fly. "Our phones are perfectly safe," said a spokesman.)

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