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Apple inks iPhone licensing deal covering 3G technologies


Wireless technology firm InterDigital Inc. revealed this week that it has signed a seven-year, non-exclusive patent licensing agreement with Apple covering the current iteration of iPhone and any successive model.

InterDigital made the news public in a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, stating that it had granted the license to Apple under its patent portfolio beginning on June 29, 2007 "covering the current iPhone and certain future mobile phones, if any."

The King of Prussia, Pa.-based firm designs, develops and provides advanced wireless technologies that help companies connect their products to 2G (EDGE), 2.5G, 3G (HSDPA), and 802 networks. Though responsible for technologies in a wide range of 2G devices like the current iPhone, InterDigital is now believed to be focusing the majority of its efforts on 3G-capable standards.

In a statement separate from the SEC filing, InterDigital increased its fiscal third quarter guidance and said it expects to receive a $20 million payment in the near future in connection with "a recently signed license agreement," but did not identify the source of the payment. One analyst, however, is convinced the royalties are tied to Apple and that they'll amount to an estimated $56 million over the course of the deal.

"They are going to be getting $2 million a quarter [from Apple] for the next seven years," Boenning & Scattergood analyst Michael Ciarmoli told Reuters. "The deal covers various 2G and 3G cellular technologies encompassing bandwidth allocation, roaming and power efficiency controls, and most likely also includes some type of packet data coding and delivery."

It would appear that the agreement between Apple and InterDigital will pave the way for a 3G-capable iPhone, which is widely expected to one of Apple's next moves in the cellular arena.