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CDG hypes $35 CDMA phones ahead of 3GSM

Just as the GSM Association prepares to announce the winner of its low-cost 3G handset contract in conjunction with the group’s 3GSM trade show in Barcelona, Spain, next week, the CDMA Development Group rolled out news that some CDMA handsets are now selling for less than $35.
The figure is the wholesale price from vendors to carriers, not the usual cost-to-consumer metric typically used in such discussions. The CDG gave no word on retail costs to consumers, specific vendors or markets.
In CDMA markets worldwide, one issue among network operators has been the cost of handsets; generally, CDMA handsets cost slightly more than their GSM counterparts. Indeed, handset prices have been cited as a reason why some CDMA carriers have decided to move to GSM technology.
And as networks migrate to 3G, consumer uptake is critical, and the advent of presumably more costly, advanced handsets underscores concerns about the cost differentials between the two air interface technologies.
Thus a few market factors that might pique the CDMA Development Group’s interest in trumpeting what it characterizes as encouraging news, particularly as its nemesis gathers its multitudes in Barcelona.
In its announcement, the CDG touted that “3G” CDMA phones had now hit the $35 price point. In response to questions from RCR Wireless News, the CDG clarified that it uses “3G” to refer to CDMA2000 1x, Revision O and Rev. A. The group did not name specific handset vendors beyond referring to one in China and one in Korea. Among markets, it named Indonesia, and “service providers in Africa, China, Central Asia, Latin America, Southeast Asia and India.” The wholesale price, referred to as the “cost to carrier,” is a legit metric for low-cost discussions, the group implied.
The CDG also extoled the benefits of its Global Handset Requirements for CDMA (GHRC), which in tandem with other programs the group said will deliver “a wider selection of ultra low-cost handsets with more value-added services than other competing standards.”
And why this announcement now, just ahead of the 3GSM show?
“The CDG has made a lot of progress with carrier-led aggregation efforts, especially over the last quarter,” the group said in an e-mail. “It was an appropriate time to announce these efforts.”

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