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Saturday, January 3, 2004

Defining 2.5G and 3G Networks—Has Wi-Fi stolen the 3G show?: "For as much hype as there has been around the deployment of third-generation—or 3G—wireless networks, the move has had many holding their breath. However, with the transitional 2.5G networks largely rolled out, the first pieces of the 3G puzzle are now being put in place."

"In North America there are now two distinct wireless camps, says William Clark, research director in mobile and wireless at Stamford, CT-based technology advisory firm, Gartner, Inc. On one hand is the GSM path favored by Europe and Asia, not to mention AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless, and not surprisingly, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile."

"The other path sees second-generation networks evolve to a bulky list of abbreviations that are often intermingled. This family of next-generation CDMA-based technologies is collectively referred to as CDMA2000, though this does not describe one technology per se; the first step in the CDMA evolution comes in the form of CDMA2000 1xRTT, sometimes referred to as CDMA2000 1x, CDMA 1x, CDMA 1xRTT, or similar combinations thereof. … CDMA 1xRTT is the chosen path of Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless, which have largely covered their networks."

"The most noticeable difference between CDMA 1xRTT and GPRS is in data speed. GPRS achieves actual throughput speeds of about 20-40Kbps while CDMA 1xRTT offers speeds double this range."

"The major carriers are nearing completion of their 2.5G networks if they have not already completed them. Of course, as is the way with such things, as soon as one phase is completed, it's on to the next. Verizon Wireless has thrown its hat in the ring with its commercial deployment of third-generation EV-DO service in San Diego and Washington, DC, this past fall.

"Sprint PCS, Verizon Wireless's main companion in pursuing a CDMA-based 3G network, plans to bypass the EV-DO step and move straight to EV-DV with peak speeds anticipated to be near 3Mbps. Therefore, Sprint PCS will be utilizing their current CDMA 1xRTT network until the beginning of 2006 when the company will start commercial deployment of the EV-DV network."

"The deployment of 3G networks also coincides with the installation of 802.11-based Wi-Fi networks that provide speeds of up to 11Mbps (with 802.11b) or 54Mbps (with 802.11a and 802.11g). The big carriers are investing in and setting up Wi-Fi networks, but there is a broader market question as to whether these more localized networks with broadband speeds will make 3G obsolete before it even takes off."

"Clark says that, in addition to Wi-Fi, metropolitan wireless area networks are 'a dark horse in this whole race.' These companies—including IPWireless, Inc., and Flarion Technologies—provide data-only networks that may offer a workable solution for localities not covered by the traditional carriers."

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