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Just coincidentally, San Diego is the home of Qualcomm: There are no coincidences, and San Diego has long been the proving ground on new Qualcomm-based cell technologies. Sprint will also turn on EVDO Rev. A, which they conservatively peg at 450 to 800 Kbps downstream and 300 to 400 Kbps upstream, in nearly two dozen other cities, including L.A., San Francisco, and New York. [link via TechDirt]
Novatel ships its Merlin XU870 Express Card to support 3.6 Mbps and 7.2 Mbps HSDPA: With millions of laptops shipping with ExpressCard slots, and the cell card makers are catching up. The card is a quad-band GPRS/EDGE modem and tri-band UMTS/HSDPA to support all four standards of GSM-evolved cell data in Europe and North America. The card is designed for today’s 3.6 Mbps HSDPA networks, but the company claims a firmware upgrade will enable 7.2 Mbps when operators move to that higher speed.
T-Mobile said today that they would use their new spectrum licenses to build a 3G network: The company spent $4.2b to acquire about 23 MHz of nationwide spectrum in the 1700 MHz and 2100 MHz bands. They will deploy what’s being called UMTS across the US starting later this year; they have equipment deployed already, waiting to be turned on, apparently.
UMTS is a generic term for 3G GSM-evolved networks, but is also often used to refer to the first, slow flavor, somewhere between EDGE/1xRTT speeds and EVDO. HSDPA, which is what T-Mobile will be largely deploying (although details are a little scanty), operates around EVDO Rev. 0 speeds at present. Near-term versions of HSDPA should match EVDO Rev. A. GigaOm writes that the company is discussing the network as HSDPA-ready rather than as running HSDPA.
The frequencies that T-Mobile’s UMTS service will work on don’t match up worldwide, requiring new equipment. Europeans do offer UMTS over 2100 MHz, but not in the same configuration that T-Mobile will deploy.
T-Mobile will rev up the service in limited markets this year, with the full deployment taking through 2008, apparently. Handsets and services won’t be launched until mid-2007. The company also said that UMA (unlicensed mobile access), which allows seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and cell networks while making voice calls, will be in trials this year.
Verizon Wireless gets dinged at the Washington Post for its restrictive metered use policy: I refuse to call Verizon’s EVDO “Unlimited” BroadbandAccess service by the unlimited label. It’s unmetered. That is, they don’t meter you for use, but they don’t give you unlimited service. In today’s account, a normal user is told that he “abused and damaged” Verizon’s network by the security department at VZW. They also charged him a $175 termination fee. I suspect that he can go to his state attorney general’s office and file a complaint and have that fee waived. He might be able to go to small claims court, too, and win a summary judgment because Verizon certainly won’t show up.
A Verizon spokesperson told the Post columnist that customers using the service for its accepted activities—email, Web surfing, and intranet applications—wouldn’t be considered excessive users. This, of course, contradicts the internal documents that have been scattered all over the Web and even letters from Verizon to its customers canceling their service. The Post writer notes that on Verizon’s site that they state if usage is “more than 5[gigabytes]/line/month, we presume use is for non-permitted uses and will terminate service.”
Now, I don’t want to be irritating and state that Verizon should allow every use in every case. It’s their network; they can set their unreasonable parameters. Neither they nor any other operator currently has enough spectrum to offer 3G services on a truly unlimited basis. You might get public pronouncements that there’s enough spectrum for that, but privately, and I’ve seen some of those documents, it’s not the case. That’s why Sprint Nextel is launching its mobile WiMax network in an entirely different set of spectrum, just for instance.
Fundamentally, Verizon should be consistent. I expect that if they annoy enough people with public statements, statements in writing, and contract statements that are at odds with one another, some legal beagles will launch a class-action lawsuit over the wording. This could be forestalled by simply stating there’s a 5 GB/month limit on all services, and that you are charged some enormous rate when you cross it, but you’ll be instant messaged repeatedly as you near the limit.
eWeek is saying that T-Mobile will announce its plans for a UMTS network on Oct. 6: The report says that T-Mobile’s recent successful cash blowout on spectrum in the FCC’s advanced wireless auction will lead to an 18-month rollout of UMTS service using 1700 and 2100 MHz, which are not used elsewhere for UMTS. Which means that existing UMTS devices will not work on T-Mobile’s network; it will need to have custom equipment made (not a big deal these days), and hope for multi-band cards that will work worldwide, including on its network.
UMTS describes both the scope of 3G network types in Europe, as well as a particular lower-speed technology implementation as rolled out worldwide. HSDPA, UMTS’s successor, is comparable in its current version to EVDO Rev. 0 (about 50 to 150 Kbps upstream, and 400 to 700 Kbps downstream, in typical performance). UMTS runs perhaps 50 to 100 Kpbs upstream and no more than 400 Kbps downstream.
Silicon giant Intel partners with Nokia to put cell data modems on motherboards: Nokia will manufacture HSDPA modems that will be embedded in Santa Rosa motherboards, Intel said last week, which is the next generation of Centrino. Santa Rosa will encompass 802.11n, the Core 2 Duo processor, improved graphics performance, and other upgrades; it will ship in the first half of 2007.