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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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LG Looks to San Diego for Tech Direction, Style Pointers

LG, the South Korean manufacturer of electronics and appliances, has been quietly setting up a mobile phone research-and-development center in San Diego.

The new center augments the North American headquarters for LG Mobile Phones’ handset business, which has been in Scripps Ranch for several years.

So far, the new R & D; center, also in Scripps Ranch, has 100 employees. The company set up the center during the fourth quarter and hiring continues, said spokeswoman Melissa Elkins.

She said LG’s San Diego head count has increased to more than 250 employees.

LG’s research center will concentrate on phones that use CDMA technology as well as those using a competing technology, called GSM. (San Diego is a home to several companies’ CDMA businesses since that is the technology developed by Qualcomm Inc.)

But the research center is not entirely about electrical engineering. LG publicists said the company is in San Diego to pick up on cultural and style trends.

LG’s other research-and-development centers are in Paris, Beijing, Bangalore, India, and Moscow.

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Limited Roaming On Leap:

Locally based telecom carrier Leap Wireless International Inc. is shaking off cell towers and portions of its radio spectrum, but it is adding something new for customers: roaming.

A spokeswoman at Leap’s San Diego headquarters noted that it is a limited amount of roaming , something better suited for emergency use than regular use.

Currently, Leap offers service in 39 U.S. markets, with no roaming.

The company recently announced it had inked a roaming agreement with New Jersey-based Verizon Wireless. Terms were not disclosed. The company also said it is pursuing roaming relationships with other North American carriers.

The company has not released the price it will charge for roaming, or details of its business model.

Verizon is the same company that has agreed to buy 23 of Leap’s radio spectrum licenses in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin and upstate New York. Verizon will pay Leap $102.5 million in cash.

Separately, Leap announced it plans to sell 142 Leap-owned cell towers and related assets to Mountain Union Telecom, LLC of Alexandria, Va., for $18 million. Leap will turn around and lease the towers at $1,500 per site per month with an initial term of 10 years.

Leap Wireless trades over the counter as LEAP. Its stock closed March 15 at $27.90.

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Wireless Gumbo:

Announcements in the wireless arena were plentiful last week as CTIA, the wireless industry association, held its conference in New Orleans.

News from San Diego companies included the following:

Digital Orchid, a San Diego software house, unveiled software that can give NASCAR fans short video clips via the Verizon Wireless network. The product is called Nascar.com To Go.

Irdeto Access launched content security software for sending content to mobile handsets. Irdeto has its U.S. office in Poway and a main office in the Netherlands. It is a subsidiary of Naspers Ltd. of South Africa.

Intercasting Corp. announced the debut of Rabble, a blogging application for wireless phones. Blog is a term meaning Web log or Web journal. Intercasting says its software “takes Web-based blogging’s simple approach to content publication and adds location awareness, proximity and camera phone integration.” The company, founded by former executives of MP3.com and Moviso, has been in business since June.

Qualcomm Inc. demonstrated several refinements to its CDMA wireless communications technology. It also demonstrated a new security feature (specifically, a digital rights management solution) that it developed in conjunction with Philips.

Qualcomm also announced a new job for one of its longtime executives. Rich Sulpizio will be president of its MediaFLO business unit. MediaFLO is a nationwide TV service that could broadcast to mobile phone handsets as soon as next year. Also, Qualcomm announced an effort to make its FLO technology a world standard for television on a handset.


Contact Brad Graves at his new e-mail address, bradg@sdbj.com, or call him at (858) 277-6359, Ext. 3115.

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