The move was certainly unexpected. Verizon had initially voiced support for Qualcomm, which lost a patent infringement case to competing wireless chipmaker Broadcom. The U.S. International Trade Commission eventually banned Qualcomm from importing the infringing chips, which contain technology related to power consumption. The ban would effectively prevent Verizon (and Sprint and Alltel) from selling any new models that contain the 3G chips in question. Obviously this wouldn't be the best thing in the world for Verizon. So it had petitioned the ITC, along with other corporations, to overturn the ban.
It has now reversed its position, is ceasing efforts to help Qualcomm, and signed a licensing deal with Broadcom instead. The agreement allows Verizon Wireless to sell new handsets and other wireless devices, ensuring the availability of the latest cell phone technology in handsets and PDAs to consumers and businesses.
Qualcomm issued a statement shortly after Verizon's news became public, reiterating its position on the ban:
Although the announced deal would appear to reduce the risk of disruption of Verizon Wireless' network, it does not resolve the problems arising from the ITC's order for the many other wireless carriers affected by the ITC's order, their tens of millions of subscribers, their suppliers, and the public safety and other vital organizations that depend upon their networks and services.
It will be interesting to watch how Sprint, Alltel, and other regional CDMA carriers attempt to get around the ban. It has been rumored that Sprint and Qualcomm were collaborating on a software work-around that would allow Sprint to continue selling 3G phones. Nothing official has been announced from either company, though.