Qualcomm has bought multi-media company Qualphone for $18 million in cash.

The purchase will help Qualcomm, the pioneer of CDMA cellular technology, to produce chipsets and other systems for multi-media mobile phones. Qualphone produces an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) software platform that integrates voice, text, picture and video features in 3G over new networks using WCDMA and CDMA2000. The company also has valuable testing technology that checks interoperability of services.

Mobile phone operators are keen to add profitable multi-media services to their products at a time when the margins on voice calls are rapidly dropping.

"This acquisition is the logical outcome of Qualphone’s and Qualcomm’s common goal of simplifying the deployment of 3G services around the world," said Qualcomm CEO Isaac Eteminan. "We look forward to uniting our efforts in helping subscribers more quickly benefit from the new wireless capabilities of 3G technology."