Resolution Remains Uncertain
For some carriers, the new models can continue to arrive. "GSM carriers that are using someone elses UMTS chips are unaffected," said Broadcoms Vice President of IP Litigation David Rosmann. He noted that 3G phones using Qualcomm chips, which include all EvDO chips, will be affected by the ban on new devices. There are alternatives in the GSM space, he added. "I think were very pleased with the decision," Rosmann said. "It was different from what we asked the commission to do. It goes a long way to stopping all infringements from Qualcomm."Rosmann also said that he doesnt think that Qualcomm has much of a chance in succeeding in its effort to get a stay in enforcing the ITC decision. "I think the ITC struck the proper balance because handsets will still be available. Qualcomm has demonstrated that they are infringing on multiple patents, and the court has found that it was willful. Well certainly oppose any notion that Qualcomm delay this enforcement," Rosmann said. Qualcomm noted in a press release that it would appeal the ITC decision by asking the commission to stay its own ruling, and by appealing the U.S. Circuit Court for a stay. No one was available to speak for Qualcomm despite repeated requests. The companies most affected, Sprint and Verizon Wireless, have yet to release any statement regarding the impact from the ITC decision. However, both companies are certainly affected given their dependence on Qualcomm chip sets for a variety of uses including EvDO. The two major GSM carriers, T-Mobile and AT&T, are also saying little. However, they are saying something. T-Mobile issued a statement that said, "T-Mobile is disappointed by the ITCs decision to preclude the importation of Qualcomms WCDMA chip technology into the United States. However, we look forward to continuing to work with Qualcomm and our other manufacturers and suppliers to move forward with our plans to bring advanced wireless offerings and technology to our customers." A T-Mobile spokesperson noted that only those T-Mobile devices that use Qualcomm chips for UMTS were affected, and noted that the company will work with Qualcomm and other companies to make sure that no infringing chips are included in their devices. AT&T declined to issue a formal statement. However, a company spokesperson did tell eWEEK that the ITC decision will not affect the iPhone launch planned for June 29 because that phone doesnt use a Qualcomm chip set. The spokesperson said that many of AT&Ts 3G products use the Qualcomm chip set and are affected. The company is studying the ruling and considering its options.
Click here to read about Nokias recent row with Qualcomm.
The bottom line, as always, boils down to how any such ruling affects consumers and the companies that sell devices to them. Jamey Charapp, president of Alternative Communications Consultants in Germantown, Md., is a Sprint Business Partner who sells to enterprise and government clients. Charapp said that he doesnt think the ITC ruling will have any significant impact on his company or his customers, at least in the near future.
"One of the things with the Sprint and Nextel merger is that we would have the ability to provide products on both networks," Charapp said. "Many customers have known this was coming about and are satisfied with their current handsets."
Charapp said that his customers are also aware that if they need new products, they can get most of what they need from the Nextel end of the line. Charapp added that with his customers especially, the future isnt in EvDO. "What a lot of lot of customers are looking for is WiMax," he said.
As a result, Charapp doesnt think that the ITC decision, despite its potential impact on new devices that Sprint might offer, will amount to much for his customers. "The effect is very minimal if any," he said.
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Rosmann said that Broadcom is ready to talk to Qualcomm about making a deal, but he said hes not sure that Qualcomm is ready. "Theres no way to predict when were going to resolve this. Were willing and ready to discuss a resolution. The balls in Qualcomms court now. Well see if Qualcomm is ready to make progress here."