Ina Fried

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Vodafone Becomes Latest Carrier to Set Up Shop in Silicon Valley

Even if they don’t offer wireless service in the U.S., it has become fashionable for overseas carriers to establish a beachhead in Silicon Valley.

It makes sense, given that many of the hottest wireless apps and services are being developed here, not to mention the fact that the region is home to both Apple and Google. The latest to hop on the trend is Vodafone, which on Thursday is opening a research and development facility in Redwood City.

“It’s a corporate objective to accelerate innovation of products,” center director Fay Arjomandi said in an interview on Thursday.

The goal is that once Vodafone has decided to work with a partner, that company’s service will be running in user trials in a Vodafone market within nine months.

The facility offers office space to partners, as well as a sample Vodafone network to allow them to develop and test their products. Companies can stay for several months or just a day or two, Arjomandi said.

“We’re here in Silicon Valley to identify the best and brightest,” said Rick Rasmussen, who heads operations and logistics for the new facility.

Vodafone, which is a part owner of Verizon Wireless, is also partnered with that company on the new center. Its facility will also have a Verizon test network; Verizon’s facilities in Waltham, Mass., and a just-opened one in San Francisco, also offer Vodafone test networks.

Unlike other European carriers with a U.S. presence, though, Vodafone has no interest in offering products here, Arjomandi said. France Telecom’s Orange, for example, doesn’t offer wireless service in the U.S., but has launched some products, such as its ON Voicemail service.

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