|re: EDGE at VoiceStream - Cingular comments|
>> EDGE Moving To Middle Of Deployment Picture
October 1, 2001
While European carriers struggle with their third-generation deployment costs, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo plans its 3G launch today. And while the U.S. market continues looking for spectrum for 3G networks, VoiceStream Wireless last week became the first U.S. carrier to announce plans to deploy a 3G technology-EDGE (enhanced data rate for GSM evolution)--on its GSM network.
NTT DoCoMo has not had to work through cash or spectrum as it has built its 3G network -called FOMA - but the dominant Japanese mobile operator delayed its 3G launch from May to October and scaled back the deployment from nationwide to covering only the Tokyo area. In April the company said it needed more time to work the kinks out of its network technology based on wideband-CDMA. It conducted a 3G test-run with a limited number of users from late May through late September.
The carrier, which is 65-percent owned by dominant carrier Nippon Telegraph & Telephone [NTT], last week said it would today begin selling handsets compatible with its FOMA service. In addition, DoCoMo said Japanese construction company Takenaka is conducting a trial of FOMA for business operations. The trial is planned through March next year.
In the United States, the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC), a TDMA booster group, expects more GSM and TDMA carriers to follow VoiceStream and begin EDGE deployments. That's because EDGE provides higher data rates than general packet radio service (GPRS), but like GPRS also doesn't require using new spectrum, Chris Pearson, executive vice president of the Bellevue, Wash.-based UWCC, told Wireless Today. EDGE and GPRS are software upgrades overlaid on carries' existing systems.
"The key factor here is both can be deployed in your existing spectrum," Pearson said. However, while EDGE's peak data rate is 473 Kbps compared to the 114 Kbps peak rate available on GPRS systems, GSM carriers moved with GPRS first because that technology was available.
"You've heard a lot about GPRS because it's what's coming out now," Pearson said. "EDGE is a very natural and simple upgrade from GPRS."
GRPS to EDGE may be the expected process, but GSM and TDMA providers need to have EDGE-capable handsets and other devices to offer their customers when they deploy that network technology.
"The question really is, 'Are there EDGE terminals available?'" said Tole Hart, wireless infrastructure market analyst for Dataquest, the telecom industry research unit of Gartner [IT]. "The challenge is getting EDGE devices to your customers."
That probably won't come before 2003, Hart said. Device manufacturers have a higher priority now on making GPRS handsets as well as models for existing networks.
Telecom technology vendors Nortel Networks [NT] and Ericsson [ERICY] last week said they will deploy EDGE infrastructure in some VoiceStream markets. Bellevue, Wash.-based VoiceStream, a Deutsche Telekom [DT] subsidiary by the first quarter next year will deploy Toronto-based Nortel's radio base stations and switching equipment and software for EDGE in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and in Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y.
Toronto-based Nortel's $300 million contract with VoiceStream also includes intelligent network equipment to support billing and location-based services.
In addition to supplying EDGE technology for some of VoiceStream's markets, Sweden-based Ericsson will install EDGE equipment including core network and radio access infrastructure in New Orleans and Virginia. Ericsson also will expand VoiceStream's GSM network in Florida under the companies' $150 million contract. <<
- Eric -