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Novatel has two models, one for North America, and one for the rest of the world: The HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) standard is rapidly emerging as the GPRS/EDGE migration path with Cingular choosing to skip the W-CDMA flavor of UMTS that AT&T Wireless had trialed before their purchase. HSDPA leapfrogs W-CDMA speeds, which is why it’s so appealing.
Novatel’s cards can be embedded in laptops which use PCI Express Mini as a way to incorporate standard networking components on the laptop’s bus. The cards are compatible with GSM, GPRS, and EDGE worldwide.
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.
Mike Masnick argues that two conflicting reports on Verizon’s EVDO sales performance reflect different expectations: Verizon says its EVDO service uptake outpaced its expectations; analysts say the results are this uptake are anemic. Masnick notes that the two aren’t incompatible. Verizon’s customers (and the reviews of its service) appear more than satisfied and often surprised by the throughput. This may bode well for them as competition emerges from other players and MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) because they’ll have already had the real-world experience of making 3G work.
New Zealand’s Woosh Wireless bought another 180 base stations from IPWireless: The order will triple the size of Woosh’s existing network. Woosh currently has 10,000 customers who can access the service anywhere within coverage area. Woosh also plans to offer voice over IP. The press release doesn’t seem to be online yet but should become available here.
Vodafone Spain will use Novatel Wireless’s UMTS 3G PC Cards: The Merlin U630 is a quad-band PC Card which supports GMS and GPRS in 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz bands worldwide, and UMTS in 2100 MHz in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. UMTS hasn’t been deployed beyond a test in the U.S. by AT&T Wireless; Cingular purchased the company and plans to skip UMTS in favor of HSDPA and its higher speeds.
Verizon’s CTO has been talking about the potential of deploying voice over IP over cellular, once Verizon deploys a 1xEV-DO network: Some significant changes in the way that VoIP is done will have to be made in order for that to make sense. I spoke recently with Dave Williams, the CTO of O2, about HSDPA, the high-speed upgrade the GSM operators are implementing and I asked him what he thought of delivering VoIP over HSDPA. “I’m not such a big fan of it yet,” he said. Currently, 3G operators can deliver voice in the equivalent of 12 Kbps of bandwidth. Voice over IP over WLAN (or over wireline really) uses as much as 128 Kbps, or as little as 24 Kbps. That means 3G is a more efficient use of spectrum for delivering voice than voice over IP. “For the short term it won’t be comparative to 3G voice but in the long term when the codec improves, who knows,” said Williams. So unless Verizon is working on some super way to deliver voice over IP, it doesn’t seem to make much sense, at least in the near term, to use its data network for voice.
Offering voice over IP over cellular isn’t a way to combat any potential losses the cellular guys might experience as a result of potential voice over Wi-Fi offerings. The only reason to offer voice over IP over cellular would be because it could offer a way for the operators to deliver voice cheaply. The voice over Wi-Fi or voice over WiMax solutions would be threatening to the cellular operators on the basis of portability or mobility and lower costs, not based merely on the fact that they use voice over IP technology.