Wireless Systems Design

Success In San Diego Encourages Wireless Rollout

The success of Wi-Fi networks in the U.S. hasn't halted the cellular carriers' march toward 3G high-speed connectivity. In fact, the commercial deployments of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO in San Diego and Washington, D.C. have bolstered Verizon Wireless' plans for a nationwide rollout. Under the name BroadbandAccess, the company will deploy its Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) network to several major metropolitan areas by this summer. Deployments will continue through 2005 until most major U.S. cities are covered.

This rollout should benefit both residential and commercial Internet users. Residential customers with EV-DO handsets and PC-card-equipped laptops will be able to engage in multi-player games. They'll also be able to enjoy music and video content as well as other multimedia applications. According to the company, they'll experience these applications at broadband-network speeds.

Commercial customers can use the EV-DO technology as an extension of their corporate LAN. This extension can be forged through existing virtual-private-network (VPN) connections. At 300 to 500 Kbps, the average for user download speeds is about 10 times as fast as traditional wired networks. Upload rates, however, may be closer to the rates of a dial-up connection.

Another challenge for Verizon Wireless is the price point for EV-DO. It remains considerably higher than typical Wi-Fi access. Yet the download speeds are faster than Verizon's nationwide 1xRTT network. EV-DO certainly represents a viable option if the consumer doesn't have access to a wired or wireless Wi-Fi connection. This rollout also marks the continued progress toward a truly third-generation, high-speed cellular network.

Both Verizon Wireless and Sprint Corp.'s Sprint PCS use CDMA technology. Other carriers, like T-Mobile, prefer GSM/GPRS as their broadband medium. In contrast, AT&T Wireless Services deployed a technology called EDGE last year. This system provides speeds that are nearly double that of dial-up, making it the fastest nationwide network to date. The Verizon Wireless rollout of EV-DO should unseat AT&T Wireless from that position once it's completed—until the next round of network improvements.

U.S. cellular carriers are trying hard to bring broadband connections to their customers. They face stiff competition from global carriers along with the phenomenal success of Wi-Fi. Innovations in Voice over IP (VoIP) technology may further challenge these carriers. To its credit, Verizon Wireless is forging ahead with plans to bring high-speed Internet connections to the handsets of most users. For more information, visit the company's web site at www.verizonwireless.com.

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