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A couple of days ago IPWireless announced a win in the Czech Republic and now it’s Flarion’s time in the sun: The winner of the 450 MHz license in Finland will use Flarion’s gear to build a nationwide network. The regulator requires the operator to lease the network to any interested service provider. A Flarion spokesman said that the network is expected to deliver the same data rates as any Flarion network, which is as much as 1.5 Mbps on the downlink and 300-500 Kbps on the uplink. Usually, the further down the spectrum you go, the harder it is to offer broadband, and 450 MHz is pretty low on the band.
The CDMA camp has also targeted the 450 MHz band and a couple of the applicants for this license would have used CDMA. There are probably a couple of reasons why those companies didn’t win. These days, most people in the wireless world agree that the future is OFDM so there could have been a perception that the CDMA gear would become obsolete sooner. Also, this is Europe where CDMA is generally reviled, so the choice could have had a bit of politics to it.
WiMax, or something like it, isn’t being optimized, as far as I know, for this low-band frequency, although it probably could be. Still, the more wins that the likes of IPWireless and Flarion get in Europe, the more mindshare they win, which makes them potential competitors to 802.16e.
T-Mobile said it was pleased with its trial of Flarion gear in the Netherlands: Not to totally discount T-Mobile’s words, but it should be noted that T-Mobile is also an investor in Flarion. Most customer trials I’ve heard of with Flarion have been positive but Flarion has a major hurdle in Europe in that its technology can’t be deployed in the UMTS bands. European regulators often designate exactly which technologies can be deployed in which frequency bands and Flarion is not included as an option in the 3G bands. Rumors have been floating around that Flarion may try to enter the process to become part of the family of standards that is approved in the 3G bands, but that is likely a very long process. Meanwhile, an operator would have to try to use other bands. Despite this issue, the T-Mobile trial in the Netherlands used the 2.1 GHz 3G band.