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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.
David Pogue writes about EVDO in the New York Times: But his column is several months late to the mainstream media coverage of this cell data technology. It’s also a little scanty on two important issues. First, EVDO isn’t national yet, although it’s getting there. EDGE may be slower, but it’s available fairly universally from Cingualr. Second, he mentions in a parenthetical paragraph that upload speeds are poor, but he cites the 100 Kbps estimate given by Verizon and doesn’t list a test upload speed as he does for download late in the story. I’ve heard that 50 Kbps is a more typical average upload speed.
Seattle is the latest city to get Verizon’s EVDO service starting today, reports The Seattle Times.
T-Mobile said it is launching a network in the Czech Republic using gear from IPWireless: Customers will be able to use combined EDGE/IPWireless PCMCIA cards for wireless data access. The network is expected to cover Prague by the end of the year, followed by the rest of the country. T-Mobile says that just two percent of the market has broadband access, so if the price is right this could make a good option. The companies say that an average user would get 512 Kbps downlink.
This is a coup for IPWireless for a couple of reasons. T-Mobile is an investor in IPWireless rival Flarion and has tried the Flarion technology in the Netherlands. In many countries (I’m not sure about the Czech Republic), operators are allowed to deploy IPWireless’ technology in the cellular frequencies but they aren’t allowed to deploy Flarion’s technology. But this is also significant because T-Mobile is a major European operator so it lends some legitimacy to IPWireless.
T-Mobile will be using the 1.9 GHz band in Prague but the oddball 872 MHz band outside of the city. Typically, the lower bands have further range but can carry less data.
In other European wireless data network news, Flarion is in a good position to win some business in Finland. Finland is about to distribute some licenses in the 450 MHz band. Flarion has developed equipment for the band and five of the seven spectrum bidders say they’d use Flarion’s gear. The other two say they’d opt for CDMA-based equipment. [link via Wispcentric]
Last year, Wireless Week ran an informative piece about the 450 MHz band in Europe, specifically looking at the potential for CDMA in the band. It’s good background reading for anyone not familiar with what’s happening in the 450 MHz band in Europe.
While many of these announcements involve unusual spectrum bands, generally, the more mobile broadband networks that get launched in the next couple of years, the more competition mobile WiMax will have when it becomes available.
Someone got ahold of Sprint’s internal schedule: they apparently have some cities up and running already: Sprint PCS has said it would deploy EVDO this year and nearly 30 cities are apparently up and running with more than a dozen to come later this year. [link via Engadget]