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Korea Markets Own CDMA Chip
By Kim Tae-gyu
CDMA2000 1X by Eonex
Korea looks to get out the long shadow of Qualcomm, a U.S.-based mobile giant that retains source technologies of code division multiple access (CDMA), by developing its own modem chips.
Eonex, a venture start-up, Monday said its modem chips for CDMA2000 1X were adopted by a local handset maker, which the company asked not to specify.
``Mobile phones employing modem chips made of our in-house technologies will be released this week via Korea's primary mobile operator SK Telecom,'' Eonex president Chun Sung-hwan said.
``This marks a turning point to challenge the 15-year dominance of Qualcomm in the CDMA modem chip market. Plus, Korea will be able to save a big chunk of money required to snap up CDMA modem chips,'' he added.
CDMA is one of two mainstream techniques for mobile telephony services together with global standard for mobile communications (GSM).
Qualcomm developed CDMA technologies but the platform was commercially deployed here in every stage of its generations from analogue to third generation (3G).
SK Telecom became the first to embark on the commercial CDMA2000 1X service in the world by launching the 2.5G applications in Sept. 2000.
The 1X offerings enable people on the go to gain access to their e-mail or check train and subway timetables. Also included in the new service packages is pinpointing location of handset owners.
Qualcomm has flat out dominated the global market for the CDMA modem chips, the most important chipsets in handset sometimes called base-band chips, for both 1X technology and more advanced 3G EV-DO (evolution data optimized).
``We already developed EV-DO modem chips and are currently carrying out trials with them. We expect our EV-DO chip-embedded models will hit the shops early next year,'' Chun said.
When contacted, the handset maker that cooperates with Eonex declined to make a comment on the phone. It did not confirm whether or not the new model was developed via a business alliance with Eonex.
However, SK Telecom verified the operator will start selling the new model, in which Eonex chip lurks, this week at about 300,000 won.
Experts point out the mobile phone vendor, which teamed up with Eonex, would not reveal its identity in fear of the retaliation from all-might Qualcomm.
``Domestic handset makers have a legitimate reason to be afraid of Qualcomm. Given Qualcomm decides not to provide its latest chips to them, they will be in trouble,'' said Greg Roh, an analyst at Korea Investment and Securities.
Korea is home to the world's third-biggest cell phone maker of Samsung Electronics and its cross-town rival LG Electronics, the fourth-largest player, as well as the Pantech Group.
Samsung and LG are also top two manufacturers of CDMA phones in the world, combining to account for about two fifths of the global demands for the models.