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X Marks The Spot

…1x that is, which will be making its mark in North America with roll-outs planned for late 2001 and throughout 2002.
By Tammy Parker

Verizon Wireless, the United States' largest wireless operator, recently signed a $5 billion supply contract with Lucent Technologies for fixed and wireless equipment, which includes 1X and EV-DO infrastructure. Verizon says it will begin to deploy 1X later this year.

In addition to the Lucent contract, Verizon is involved in 1X trials with Nortel and Motorola. Verizon Wireless spokeswoman, Andrea Luskey, disputes the notion that Vodafone, which holds a large stake in Verizon, might have disagreed with Verizon's choice of technology and calls the move to 1X a logical one because it allows Verizon to upgrade its base stations without 'forklifting' the network. "We are deploying 1X because 1X is cost-effective and enables us to be quick to market," says Luskey.

Luskey acknowledges, however, that no decision beyond 1X EV-DO has been made. The future path, she said "could be 3X, could be WCDMA or could be a technology that's yet to be determined."

Sprint PCS also plans to deploy 1X in 2002 and is buying equipment from Lucent and Motorola. Other Motorola customers include Alltel and Nextel Communications, which currently uses Motorola's iDEN system, and which eventually intends to migrate to 1X.

Another operator on the 1X bandwagon is Canada's Bell Mobility, which will deploy 1X beginning in late 2001. The operator recently completed Canada's first 1X field trial in Ontario using equipment from Nortel Networks. Bell Mobility vice president, Wireless Technology, Brian O'Shaughnessy says that the operator has not yet committed to EV-DO and/or EV-DV, leaving that decision until after 1X is deployed.

Spin-off
Qualcomm spin-off, Leap Wireless, has signed purchase agreements with Lucent and with Ericsson, which bought Qualcomm's infrastructure business, in order to deploy 1XRTT in early 2002. Leap chief technical officer Mark Kelley says: "1X is important to us. We need that added capacity in some of our markets." According to Kelley: "In the markets that we're rolling out this year, we're going to put in the 1XRTT channel cards. And then the issue will be having the handsets available." He expects to see the handsets by early 2002.

Leap has not yet ordered EV-DO equipment but says the easy channel card addition will enable quick deployment if and when the operator decides to make that move.

On April 5, 2001, Lucent joined with Sprint PCS to complete an EV-DO call at speeds of up to 2.4Mbit/s. The call was conducted at Sprint's test site in Lenexa, Kansas. Sprint PCS said it would test EV-DO through June 2001. Commercial availability of Lucent's CDMA2000 EV-DO base stations is expected in 2002, and the technology is expected to be deployed into the Sprint PCS wireless network by 2003.

Operators

This article first appeared in CDMA World Focus June 2001 published by Informa Telecoms. For more information see www.telecoms.com

telecoms.com