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Big move for Broadcom, despite modest appearance: EDGE may be old technology, but it’s being rolled out like crazy in devices, since the networks have been built and are underused. Hence, the iPhone. Broadcom said today that Nokia, the dominant handset maker, will buy its EDGE chips from them. Broadcom says EDGE will be in 400m devices by 2009.
Broadcom is riding high on the various bits of news and legal decisions related to its ongoing patent battles with Qualcomm, including the decision by the US Trade Representative to allow a trade commission standing banning new handset models with Qualcomm 3G chips from entering the country; a judge’s slapdown of Qualcomm’s attorneys and standards’ group practices that have led the judge to find two patents invalid; and the potential for more of the same to come.
AT&T’s EDGE network suffered outages in the West and Midwest: AT&T didn’t tell Nancy Gohring, friend of this site, when the outage started, what caused it, or what they’d do to prevent it in the future. Customers weren’t notified in any fashion, either, despite the wide availability of broadcast SMS, which AT&T uses for sales purposes. This was the first business day after the iPhone went on sale; the iPhone uses EDGE when a Wi-Fi network isn’t available, which means most of the time outside a home or coffeeshop.
Cingular becomes first US carrier to offer worldwide card, plan: The insanely named Option GlobeTrotter GT Max LaptopConnect card handles 850, 900, 1800, 1900, and 2100 megahertz (MHz) spectrum bands, covering GSM, GPRS, UMTS, and HSDPA worldwide. The card will be $100 with a two-year domestic or one-year GlobalConnect commitment. The card also includes Wi-Fi.
The service is priced by countries included in a particular plan. A North American plan includes the US, Canada, and Mexico for $110 per month; for $140 per month you get two dozen countries including North America and Australia, China, France, Germany, England, Japan, and others. These two plans include unlimited data in the US and 100 MB of data transfer in the selected other countries.
Data above the 100 MB is $5 per MB in GlobalConnect countries and $19.50 per MB in about 80 other countries. These overages may appear quite expensive in some ways, but having a defined and consistent rate has its benefits, and should allow control.
Other carriers with worldwide plans require two separate PC Cards. The antenna on this card retracts, allowing it to remain in the laptop while in storage or travel.
Sony’s Vaio T350 includes an EDGE modem for CIngular’s network: The $2,199 and up laptop is configured to work only with Cingular’s EDGE service. Unlimited service is $80 per month; $50 per month buys you 50 MB of data transfer. Given that Verizon is charging $80 per month for unlimited data at a rate that’s at least five times faster, this seems a bit rich even though Cingular already has a national EDGE network and Verizon must built its slower 1xRTT up to EVDO in most of the country.
This AP piece says that CIngular will roll out UMTS this year and next, but other reports have said Cingular will skip UMTS in favor of HSDPA, even though it means waiting, to ensure higher data speeds in the same limited spectrum.
T-Mobile goes for EDGE, but no further: They think the market is too immature and revenue unassured for true 3G flavors. They might be right. Verizon Wireless is happy with its EVDO uptake and I can find plenty of customers who rave about it. But the revenue side isn’t clear to financial analysts.
Even if T-Mobile wanted to build 3G networks, they don’t have the spectrum portfolio to do so. They expect to build a 3G network by 2007 or 2008, long after Cingular, Sprint PCS, and Verizon Wireless. This might save them money or avoid massive losses; or they could lose out on the biggest change in data networking of the decade. We’ll see.
Sony Ericsson plans four-mode PC Card with Wi-Fi and Kyocera offers EVDO router: PC Magazine reports on two upcoming options for aiding laptop connections to the Internet via cellular data networks.
Sony Ericsson’s $80 PC Card will include GSM, GPRS, EDGE, and Wi-Fi, with full security support on the Wi-Fi side. T-Mobile and Cingular will likely offer this card for $50 as part of a service bundle.
Meanwhile, Kyocera showed off its EVDO router, a device that routes EVDO connections from the cellular network to local Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This is an interesting option, but it’s worth pointing out that at least two other companies have offered the same kind of product for some months, most notably the Seattle-based Junxion with their Junxion Box that supports a whole host of PC Cards. They’ve been working with a national firm that resells to system integrators, so their pipeline has been running for many months.