The next wave for wireless

Paul JacobsDr. Paul E. Jacobs, CEO and chairman of the board at Qualcomm, addressing MIT students on May 6, 2009.

Qualcomm's Paul Jacobs speaks to the future of wireless technology

On Wednesday May 6, Dean David Schmittlein introduced Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, CEO and chairman of the board at Qualcomm, to a packed auditorium of MIT and MIT Sloan students. Jacobs was on campus at the invitation of the Mobile Media and Internet Technology club at MIT (MoMIT).* His talk “What's Next in Our Wireless Lives?” was co-sponsorerd by the MIT Media Lab. Jacobs used the session to outline the transformation of the wireless landscape, the importance of connectivity, and the future of wireless in the world at large.

Jacobs began speaking about his early days at Qualcomm working on CDMA technology. He told the crowd an anecdote about a professor at Stanford who said “the physics [of CDMA] did not support the technology.” From that story, Dr. Jacobs went on to explain the advancements wireless technology has made since the early days of CDMA. He spoke about the current need to architect more for data than voice, the advent of 3G, and the desire to bring current software platforms into classrooms at universities like MIT.

Future Offerings

Some coming Qualcomm innovations were also the topic of discussion. With analog television scheduled to go by way of the dodo on June 12, Qualcomm is prepared to launch MediaFlo, a new digital television network that will make available many channels via a single wireless conduit. Their Channel 55 will be available nationwide where no channel 55 is currently available. Jacobs also showcased Qualcomm's universal charger eZone, which makes use of near-field magnetic resonance principles for a quick set and forget charge. Zeebo, a new gaming platform aimed at emerging markets, has a new distribution model that Qualcomm has helped develop. The console's library of games will be populated by a download-only distribution model made possible by a chip set from the telecom company.

To give attendees a further glimpse inside the research and development department at Qualcomm, Jacobs showed an informative video which the company launched April 1, 2009. Wolf-pigeons, Shark-falcons, Crocodeagles — the video was an April Fools joke that gave a look at some interesting bio-tech advancements being made at Qualcomm.

Jacobs closed his talk on a philanthropic note and spoke briefly about connectivity and why it matters to the world. Talking about the presence of wireless connectivity in developing countries and its ability to impact their economic well-being, Jacobs spoke of the future as possibility in emerging markets and the impact that mobile could have on their economies for the better. A question and answer session followed the talk, and it was clear that Jacobs had piqued the audience's curiosity about his vision for a wireless future.

MoMIT promotes learning, networking, recruiting, and entrepreneurship in the mobile, new media, and Internet industries at MIT. The club is led by a team of first- and second- year students at MIT Sloan.